Democracy: A total of 293 students will run for the first-ever Bhutan Children’s Parliament (BCP) elections slated for Saturday, September 12.

According to the candidate list released by the election commission, 175 candidates are male and 118 female. The candidates include members of democracy clubs.

The campaign period began on September 7 and ended yesterday. The results will be declared and submitted to His Majesty the King on September 13.

This is a mirror election that will have two houses of the Parliament – BCP-National Assembly (NA) and BCP-National Council (NC) with as many constituencies for respective Houses.

All 20 constituencies (dzongkhags) for the BCP-NC have found their candidates. However for BCP-NA, four constituencies – Sombaykha in Haa, Kengkhar-Weringla Demkhong in Mongar, Khar-Yurung in Pemagatshel and Lingmukha-Toedwang in Punakha dzongkhags – saw no candidates.

A total of 153 students, 98 of whom are male, have registered for the BCP-NA, which consists of 47 constituencies. Another 140 candidates (55 percent of them male) have registered for BCP-NC.

The BCP will be the apex body of democracy clubs in the country and function like a Parliament and discuss pertinent issues. The first sitting of the BCP will be held in winter, when schools close for winter break.

Besides school students, candidates from Sherubtse College in Trashigang, Gaedu College of Business Studies and Samtse College of Education have also registered for the election.

Children, according to the constitution of the BCP, include all school going children, trainees and degree college students who are not older than twenty-four years.

Election commissioner Deki Pema in an earlier interview said BCP would facilitate children to hone their leadership skills and voice their ideas, thoughts and feelings. “BCP is an entity of forum in which we have high expectations and hopes that it will contribute meaningfully and positively to the nation,” she said.

The election commission also believes that the discussion of the children’s parliament will be inputs for the Bhutanese Parliament.

According to the BCP Constitution, the Children’s Parliament will convene at least one formal session every year, in July or during the winter holidays. Each member will serve for two years.

The proceedings of the BCP sessions will be submitted to His Majesty The King, Chief Justice, the Speaker of Parliament, Prime Minister, Chairperson of the National Council, and Leader of Opposition.

The two houses of the BCP will also elect a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker and a Chairperson and a Deputy Chairperson in their respective first sessions. The BCP’s secretariat, which will be headed by secretary general, will be housed in the ECB compound and supported under the regular budget of the government.

Each democracy club can propose issues to be tabled at the BCP session through a democratic process and route it through the respective BCP member.

Asked if the BCP activities would affect school activities, Principal of Dagapela middle secondary school, Sonam Tobgay earlier said it would not as all activities are planned. “Every activity will be planned to avoid any kind of clashes with school activities.”

MB Subba