Yesterday, August 1, marked the end of the second National Assembly (NA) since the first democratic parliamentary election in 2008. In a typically Bhutanese way, the Cabinet and the members of the Assembly offered zhabten and tashi moelam. It was a solemn occasion as the ministers and the MPs folded their kabney and removed their patang to return to life out of high office.

As symbolic and significant as the occasion was, even though the events leading up to the day were marked by unnecessary name-calling and finger-pointing, it was with respect and sense of gratitude that the people witnessed the proceedings unfold in the august hall of the Assembly.

Now that the second democratically elected government has ended its term in office, politicking will in earnest pick pace. Election 2018 is likely going to be tightly contested because no one political party has significant advantage over the other. All four parties have candidates with commendable experience under their belt. What is worrying is that the parties may allow themselves to play dirty in which case we risk deep divisions in the society.

Two parliamentary and numerous thromde and local governments elections stand testimony to the eventualities we could have avoided. Politics does not have to be dirty, least of all divisive. And politicking can be conducted in a dignified manner. Letting them ride, as elections come and go, we run the risk of giving lie to our common and bigger national objective of nurturing an exemplary and uniquely Bhutanese democracy.

So here is now come the time to take stock of things and look ahead as we inch closer to the poll day. Politicians would do well to respect themselves by not engaging in egregious behaviours. Throwing themselves wide open to public ridicule with threats and vain promises will not help them gain any political ground. But then, they know this all too well.

As for the electorate, they are wise and are watching the politicians with a gimlet eye.