Parliament fails to decide Paro’s yenlag and Pemagatshel’s thromdes

LG: From confusion on voting procedures to accusations flying back and forth, the deliberations on thromde at the joint sitting of the Parliament yesterday failed to reach a consensus on deciding Pemagatshel’s dzongkhag and yenlag thromde and Paro’s yenlag thromde (satellite town.)

Despite the drama, suspense and confusion, Paro dzongkhag tshogdu’s proposed yenlag thromde at Jitsiphu failed to secure the required three-fourth majority votes.

By the end of the session, it was decided that a special committee be formed comprising seven members from the National Assembly and five from the National Council to come up with a proposal today. The special committee will have to present its suggestions on Pemagatshel dzongkhag thromde and yenlag thromdes today before the house resumes its deliberation.

After the works and human settlement minister Dorji Choden moved the motion urging members to support the proposed yenlag thromde, Paro’s Dogar-Shaba representative Kezang Wangmo stood to make her point.

Kezang Wangmo said that while Jitsiphu was the dzongkhag tshogdu’s decision, if members don’t agree with it, they should consider Betekha. Betekha, she said secured the highest votes during the fifth session when members voted on three options for yenlag thromde.

Lamgong-Wangchang representative Khandu Wangchuk said that development activities in Paro should also commence like in the rest of the dzongkhags where thromdes have been declared. “As Jitsiphu was endorsed by the dzongkhag tshogdu, we must respect it,” he said.

Paro’s councilor Kaka Tshering said the Dogar-Shaba representative wants Betekha while the Lamgong-Wangchang representative is in favour of Jitsiphu, pointing out that should the trend continue, Paro would be left without a yenlag thromde again.

“As Betekha secured the highest votes during the fifth session, the ministry should have written to the dzongkhag to finalize Betekha instead of leaving it open,” he said, adding that although he is from upper Paro, he is in favour of Betekha considering the area, population and potential.

Most members from the ruling party emphasized that the yenlag thromde for Paro should be in Betekha while those from the opposition were in favour of Jitsiphu, which they said was in line with the dzongkhag tshogdu decision.

Some members also questioned why Betekha was considered as an option when the DT had already endorsed Jitsiphu. They also said that as there could be more than one yenlag thromdes in all dzongkhags, it should not be an issue.

The house votes

Following a thorough deliberation, the voting began before which the National Council chairperson Dasho (Dr) Sonam Kinga said that the three-fourth majority votes should be based on the total number of members, which is 72 and not on 69 members, who were present in the house.

The Council, he said followed the same procedure in line with the Constitution although three eminent members were missing. However, he left the interpretation up to the Speaker and to decide accordingly.

The Speaker placed two options before the house on whether the three-fourth majority should be based on 72 or 69. The Speaker agreed to base it on 72 after the option saw 28 ‘yes’ votes, 31 ‘no” while five abstained.

Leader of the Opposition (Dr) Pema Gyamtsho said that rather than deciding on one, the discussion is going back to square one.

He suggested that more yenlag thromdes be declared during the summer session since dzongkhags can have more than one. The other option he said was to form a committee comprising members from both the houses for a way forward in line with the regulations.

As members deliberated on the way forward for Paro thromde, Dasho (Dr) Sonam Kinga said the house should move on to the next agenda which was to decide the dzongkhag and yenlag thromde for Pemagatshel.

But views were divided between Denchi and Nganglam as the dzongkhag thromde for Pemagatshel. Some members said three Pemagatshel representatives should give their views on why Denchi or Nganglam should be made the dzongkhag thromdes.

Khar-Yurung’s representative Zanglay Dukpa said he didn’t want to justify anymore as he had already emphasized on the need to have the dzongkhag thromde in Denchi in the last session.

He said he has nothing against Nganglam but still feels that Denchi is ideal and had more potential. “Now I leave it up to the members to vote where you feel is right,” he said, requesting members to visit Denchi if they are still of the view that it’s a forest.

“If you vote for Denchi then I’ll remain forever grateful even after my death when I am in heaven,” he said.

The house however did not go to vote to decide Pemagatshel’s thromdes.

Pangbang representative Dorji Wangdi said that although the establishment of thromde is the government’s motion, even members of the ruling party don’t accept it leaving the house divided. “The opposition has always been in support of the decision of dzongkhag tshogdu and the government’s move to declare thromdes,” he said.

Dorji Wangdi said all 15 members from the opposition voted for the proposal and are in support of both Jitsiphu and Denchi, which is not the case for the members of the ruling. “We should proceed to vote for Pemagatshel as is the process,” he said.

But it was Khamaed-Lununa representative Pema Dukpa’s statement accusing the National Council for politicizing the thromde issue despite being an apolitical body, which cost him an apology after some of the members, condemned his statement.

Council’s eminent member Dasho Tashi Wangyal sought clarification from Pema Dukpa on what he meant by his statement, as the Council is an apolitical body. He also said the Speaker should intervene in such matters.

“Unless the member proves it, the Council members will not be able to participate in any of the discussions,” he said.

While concluding the session, Speaker Jigme Zangpo said it was easier for him to follow the due processes through voting. However, he said he was acting in the larger interest of the nation and the people.

“While all members agree on the enormous benefits of having a thromde, when it comes to voting it shows otherwise,” he said.

The deliberations will continue today.

By Kinga Dema