The Druk Chirwang Tshogpa (DCT) has announced that it has decided to merge with Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) to form a strong force for the upcoming elections.
Speaking at a press conference in Thimphu yesterday, the party’s founding president Lily Wangchuk said the decision was made to carry forward the party’s agenda and ideology through DPT, which she said was a larger platform than her own party.
Stating that she was in talks with Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) and DPT, and among her party members for the last six months, Lily Wangchuk said both parties initially were keen to take her as a candidate. She said she however, had to make sure that all her members and candidates were not left behind.
There are no provisions in electoral laws for an official merger between two or more political parties in the country. To clear the technical glitch, the party deregistered with the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) on February 26.
Lily Wangchuk said that the whole party as an organization was joining the DPT, arguing that it was not dissolved. “Only the Supreme Court can dissolve a political party.”
On why she had embraced her new party over DNT, she said that DPT as a widely known party was willing to accommodate her party’s ideas.
She added that DNT was also rigid to her party’s proposals.
On whether she was promised a ministerial portfolio, Lily Wangchuk said that DPT had not made any personal promise to her although she confirmed that she would be her new party’s candidate from North Thimphu.
Lily Wangchuk said that DPT has about 10 constituencies without candidates and that members from both DPT and DCT would compete to fill in the vacancies based some criteria. “Members from our side can join as candidates,” she said.
With her party’s switching to DPT, she said that they would work on a manifesto taking on board the ideas of both the parties.
A senior member of DCT, SB Ghallay, said his party wanted to work towards achieving equitable socioeconomic development, unity, prosperity, and happiness with the right leadership, vision and political will.
The party is not eligible for state funding in the upcoming elections, as it did not meet the threshold of garnering 10 percent of popular votes in 2013.
“We would have found private donors but that would not make us independent in our political endeavours,” he said, adding that lack of money was not the sole reason for merging with DPT.
What DCT brings to DPT?
Lily Wangchuk said that while DPT has the experience of having worked in the government and the opposition, her party would add fresh strength to DPT.
She said she believes that joining DPT will help them draw on each other’s strength and help add more diversity. The move, she said, could further reinforce and consolidate their combined presence and support throughout the country with good mix of professionals, ideas, strength and gender.
“While they bring the rich experience and wisdom, we can add more value with our fresh perspective, progressive approach and present the voices of women and youth,” she said.
Ideologically, she said, there’s not much of a difference between all political parties in Bhutan. “So by combining the forces, we intend to present a progressive manifesto that is responsive to all sections of the society and push our social agenda for a more prosperous, happier and stronger Bhutan with greater solidarity and unity.”
The support and ideas of youth, party members said were one of the biggest strengths DCT will add to DPT.
SB Ghallay said that one of the criticisms against DCT was the presence of more youth candidates and that their presence in DPT would help push forward the youth’s agenda.
The party was registered in January 2013 and garnered about 12,000 votes in the 2013 primaries.