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With the election campaigns drawing close to the doorsteps, there have been concerns about the people voting along party lines. Regionalisation of politics is a sad development in electoral process.

Such a trend, while offering short-term gain to political parties, is a cause of concern for democracy in Bhutan. It is, therefore, the responsibility of every citizen to refrain from throwing in elements that could foment division in the society.

Beginning the first day of the electoral process for the third National Assembly elections, there have been issues of sensitive nature floating about. The blame must lie on us all. As a citizen, it is our responsibility, each individually, to stop unhealthy trends from sinking in that could destroy the culture of democracy that we together invited for the future of our nation. If democracy fails, we are all together the victims. And, if we can make a success and an exemplar out of it, we have only to congratulate ourselves.

It is the Constitutional right of the people to choose their leaders. If the choice is made based on reasoned decisions, there is no harm in two political parties taking parts of the country each in terms of vote counts. But if people are influenced or convinced by false reports and works of some party workers, it is dangerous for democracy.

In the contest to gain the maximum number of votes from the constituencies, the political parties will go to farthest length possible. That’s why there are party manifestos that are being debated in the many public forum programmes. The point is to never lose the national focus – to give opportunity to the political parties to win the approval of the electorate within the boundary of the electoral laws.

It is important for the voters to comprehend the implications their votes could have to the future of the nation. And that means understanding the core values and development promises the political parties come with. In a political race to win the most constituencies, the scale will have to tip, of course. But we as citizens, each individually, must do a serious soul-searching.

We have come a long way as a nation. Our priorities have changed, but not so radically. There may or may not be regionalism in Bhutanese politics yet, but it is precisely at such times as we are treading that we need to measure our words carefully and be guided by reason and prudence.

Voters will choose the party that can deliver or promise the best to represent them in the Parliament. Let them do it.

Fear and coercion are the elements that should not be given any space.

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