Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) president Lotay Tshering claimed that Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) has employed about 20 youth to defame his candidates on social media and discredit the party.

During an emotionally charged speech yesterday in Mongar, Lotay Tshering choked while he was narrating about his correspondence with an anonymous account on social media who had branded him a liar and a deceiver. He continued after a pause.

“I had never done such a thing in my entire life of 50 years,” he said. “No one can make a joke out of someone’s reputation or the electoral process. This is not done. This is corruption. We’ll not take part in it and we cannot compete with them.”

Let alone criticise DPT or their pledges, Lotay Tshering said he does not have enough time to meet and address the constituents about his party’s pledges.

When politics involves the ignoble practice of mudslinging, Lotay Tshering said he feels like forfeiting politics.

Since the DPT has been engaged in criticising other party’s pledges over the successive elections in the past it could have become their habit, he said.

Negative campaign such as this is the practice in backward and under-developed nations, he said. “We have to aspire and do more than that. One may feel funny on hearing about our pledges in the beginning, but if one delves deeper you will want to prostrate to our pledges,” he said.

He cited DPT calling DNT’s doing away with class 10 cut off point and raising the minimum basic education level to class 12 as unconstitutional.

“Unless DPT has a different Constitution, this pledge is Constitutional,” Lotay Tshering said to the people he met in Balam, Chaskhar and Mongar yesterday. “We’ve even consulted those judges who were involved in drafting the Constitution and they said there is no problem.”

He said he would resign if this pledge couldn’t be done.

He said there are more people who criticise DNT’s pledges including the incentives for rural mothers to breastfeed and take care of their children for the first six months. “They are doing so because they don’t understand the actual benefits it will accrue in a stronger future through healthy and bright children,” he said. “They are doing it out of ignorance.”

“DPT president is a good and a well-meaning person but he might not have grasped the benefits of this pledge or may have been fed wrong information,” Lotay Tshering said.

He said that his party’s stand has been to play it fair. “We present our own pledges and refrain from criticising the other party,” he said.

Lotay Tshering said that his candidates have been advised never to engage in criticising the pledges of DPT or their candidates and misinform the people.

He said that if people think DNT pledges would benefit them, then support DNT candidates or else support those from DPT as they are not bad people. “The only difference is in the pledges.”

Lotay Tshering said parties would fulfil the pledges in their manifesto. “What has been pledged so far is building the hardware. We’re now promising to build the software, which is unique this time.”

He said this as he addressed the gathering after the common forum at the Mongar school multipurpose hall yesterday evening. He invited DPT’s Mongar constituency candidate Karma Lhamo to sit through his address of the gathering at Mongar school yesterday but she declined.

He also touched on DPT’s pledge to involve private sector in building the hydropower plants.

“This is worrying because the income from the main jewel of our country will go to a few in the private sector,” he said.

DPT’s 10,000MWof electricity by 2030 will have adverse effects on the economy from increasing debt besides others.

The turnout at the three meetings was much more compared to Drametse meeting the day before which had a small turnout, because it was an ad hoc meeting. Coordinators said they could not inform the people adequately.

The DNT president will meet with the people of Lhuentse today and travel to Bumthang.

Tshering Palden and Tashi Phuentsho | Mongar