Dechen Dolkar

Gelephu Constituency, known for its vibrant community and active citizenry, is currently grappling with a growing concern. The constituents fear that their issues and interests will be inadequately represented in the parliament due to the absence of their elected representative during the ongoing session.

Karma Donnen Wangdi, MP and former minister for erstwhile MoIC, voluntarily stepped down from his ministerial position on April 28. This decision was prompted by the Royal Civil Service Commission’s recent reforms, which downsized the number of ministries to a mere nine. Following his stepdown, Karma Donnen Wangdi has been absent from current parliamentary sessions, leaving his constituents worried and searching for answers.

 Residents of Gelephu constituency express concerns over their MP’s absence, particularly at a time when other parliament members are actively participating in discussions and raising important issues within the highest law-making body. One constituent remarked that they assumed their representative had resigned entirely after stepping down as minister, as he has been notably absent from the current session.

 To exacerbate matters, constituents claim that their MP had made only a single visit to the constituency during his tenure as minister. Several individuals attempted to reach out to their representative via phone calls but were unable to establish contact. Frustrated and seeking answers, concerned voters have approached local leaders, inquiring about the absence of their representative from the parliament session.

 In response, local leaders confessed their own lack of information regarding the MP’s whereabouts, rendering them unable to provide a satisfactory explanation. Their inability to shed light on the matter has only deepened the worries of Gelephu constituents, who fear their voices and concerns may go unheard due to the lack of representation.

 Under the National Assembly, rules of procedure 2022, members are entitled to various types of leave, including casual, earned, maternity, paternity, medical leave, and bereavement leave. However, if a member is absent for a quarter of the session without the speaker’s approval, they may face disqualification. Members must submit a written application to the Speaker, specifying the period and grounds for their requested leave.

 Wangchuk Namgyel, the Speaker of the National Assembly, said that the absent MP had sought medical leave, which the Speaker approved until June 18. He further stated that the MP had been on medical leave during the previous session as well. The Speaker assured concerned citizens that their elected representative would join the session starting June 19. It is worth noting that the MP was granted a one-month transitional period to assume their role as an MP after stepping down from the ministerial position.

Political observers monitoring the situation have expressed scepticism about the MP’s absence. They emphasise that missing parliamentary sessions, which occur only twice a year for slightly over 30 days, is an exceptional circumstance for any member. The observers further note that the absence of representation from the Gelephu constituency raises concerns about the potential deprivation of their voices and the issues affecting their community.

Members of parliament are expected to take leave during sessions only in cases of compelling reasons. Therefore, the extended absence of the MP without a clear explanation has raised eyebrows and heightened anxiety among constituents.

Additionally, it has come to light that the former minister has yet to surrender the minister’s enclave to the government and continues to reside there. Furthermore, it has been revealed that the MP has been out of the country since the first week of May, further contributing to the prevailing uncertainty surrounding his absence.

As the people of Gelephu constituency eagerly await the return of their representative and seek assurance that their concerns will be adequately addressed, the absence of their elected representative continues to cast a shadow of doubt and concern over the future of their parliamentary representation.