In a letter to the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB), Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) has alleged education minister, Norbu Wangchuk, of abuse of power and conducting illegal campaign in his constituency.

The letter, which was submitted to the commission yesterday, alleges that the minister’s ongoing tour that began on July 11 in his constituency of Kanlgung-Samkhar-Udzorong in Trashigang is more of a preparation for the upcoming general elections premised on official visit. 

“In the ongoing familiarisation tours, all other political parties are making do with bare minimum with regards to resources. At such a time, lyonpo is seen using government resources and personnel to pursue his political agenda,” DNT’s letter claims.

The letter also alleges that DNT party workers have observed the minister engaging in political activities that includes conducting meetings in his constituency and nominating PDP party coordinators.          

The party has submitted a photograph of the minister with 17 party coordinators in Udzorong gewog including the itinerary of lyonpo’s visit to ECB as evidence. “Besides travelling in government pool vehicle and using accompanying staff from the headquarters and local government officials to facilitate his political activities, lyonpo has also been hosting meals for the people and wooing their support,” claims the letter. 

During a meeting in Kanglung yesterday, the minister told Kuensel that he was visiting his constituency to meet the people and to express his gratitude before leaving office.

“I’ve not resigned and I’ve the duty to work until the last day of my office,” said lyonpo. I’ve come here to express my gratitude to the people of my constituency for having given me the opportunity to serve the King, the country and the people for five years.”

The minster said that the tour is an official visit where he reports to the people some of the achievements that have been made in the last five years. “And since it is the end of the 11th Plan and the beginning of the 12th Plan, it is my obligation to report to the people what is in the 12th Plan,” he said. “If there is anything that is amiss in the 12th Plan, we take feedback from the people while we still have the opportunity to incorporate the feedback.” 

The minster conducted two meetings yesterday. However, Kuensel was not allowed to attend the meetings. 

Denying DNT’s allegations, the minster said, “As I go around people ask me whether I would stand for elections again and I told the people that I would be standing for the elections,” he said. “Some people come forward to support me. I still have some 15-20 days to resign and after that they become my supporters in the villages.”

Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said he is personally providing the meals during the meetings. “It is from my own finance and not a part of the government budget,” he said. “I owe the people a decent meal at the end of the five year term. People come from far off places to attend the meeting and as an expression of gratitude, I organise a decent food for the people.” 

Meanwhile, DNT’s complaint letter also claims that this is not the first time the minster has misused his official status to promote the party and its candidates. 

According to the letter, on December 25, 2017, the election commission office in Trashigang was informed of a similar conduct by the minister during the national day celebration in the dzongkhag. “The minister in the capacity of chief guest had introduced and asked the people of Radhi-Sakteng constituency to support PDP’s candidate for the constituency,” states the letter.  

However, no action was taken against the minster, alleges the letter. “It is also disheartening to learn that a person of such position, with knowledge of the existence of oversight bodies like ECB and ACC, has blatantly turned a blind eye on the electoral laws of the country. As a responsible political party, Nyamrup feels obliged to bring such practices to your notice, as we gear for free and fair elections in the coming months,” states the letter.

The party has also submitted a copy of the letter to the Anti Corruption Commission.    

The minster is accompanied by his wife and other officials from the ministry.  

Younten Tshedup | Kanglung