Rising out of the mist, majestic Dechenphug monastery glimmered in the golden rays of the Autumnal morning. The air hung heavy with dense fragrance of incense and the chanting of the monks in prayers to Genyen Jagpa Milan, one of the country’s chief deities.

At 6am, more than a dozen Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party candidates emerge from the monastery their faces gleaming with confidence.

They break their fast with the modest suja and dresi (butter tea and sweetened fried rice) they brought from home, cheerfully at the base of the slope.

The team of party leaders and candidates stop at Trashichhodzong to offer their prayers and khaddar at the Dukhang. They find a sacred prayer ceremony underway. They tell each other that the coincidence is an obvious sign.

The party then kicks off its official campaign from the Memorial Choeten after lighting butter lamps and offering prayers.

Party president, Neten Zangmo, with folded palms, offered a prayer: “May we succeed in fulfilling the noble aspirations of our leaders.”

The president hugged each of the candidates as she bid farewell with a white scarf. “The path we have chosen is difficult but the tough gets going when the going gets tough. Bear that in mind,” she said.

She admitted it was an emotional moment. “I’m sending my pazaps and pazams to fulfill a noble purpose. Our job’s done, if we can change the mind set of the citizens towards the fact that it’s a collective responsibility to ensure clean politics and nation-building.”

In the post-event press conference, party leaders said that BKP was committed to redefine the politics in the country and forge ahead incorruptible.

Touching on some of the highlights of BKP’s manifesto, Neten Zangmo said that the party’s main goal is economic self-reliance through the various means the party has outlined in its manifesto.

The manifesto is expected to be launched soon.

One of the main pledges is to ensure 100 percent irrigation and round-the-clock drinking water supply for all.

“Self-reliance would be difficult if there isn’t reliable and continued irrigation,” she said.

One of the main pledges of the party is home for all, including shelter for the homeless, and pension for every Bhutanese.

The party vice-president Sonam Tobgay said that the party has big opportunity of winning. “We’re more than prepared. There are more than enough omens,” he said.

He urged the candidates to continue working harder and make every possible effort in reaching out.

“We’re fortunate to get this opportunity to contest in the elections and serve the interests of the Tsawa-Sum,” he said.

He said that an important message to the constituents is that it doesn’t matter if BKP’s ballot box is empty on poll day. “But like our president said the voters must make a conscious choice and ensure that the coffers of the country don’t run dry,” he said.

The candidates said that they have to emphasise on getting rid of the apprehension in the voters including those in the urban areas such as taxi drivers.

“Even those living in urban places have misperceptions and fears of their votes being traced by the party that they had registered with. This is a serious issue we must all correct,” BKP North-Thimphu candidate, Karma Loday said.

“Exemplary leadership plays a critical role in politics and tells a lot about the party, so we are driven by our president,” BKP candidate for Bardo-Trong, Zhemgang Kesang Choden said.

The party officials said that it is founded on the philosophy of Gross National Happiness encompassing Tha-damtse ley-jumdre; Equality: respect for each individual, people empowerment, human rights and rule of law; inclusivity: participatory and inclusive political and governance processes to the advancement of socio-cultural and economic growth of the nation; and cultural values that is safeguarding and promoting the special and unique Bhutanese way of life and setting

The party’s other candidates are in their respective constituencies for campaigning.

President Neten Zangmo will tour the dzongkhags after her public debate on August 26.

Tshering Palden