Leaders of Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) have begun a nation-wide tour to interact with party workers and supporters.

Comprising party president Dr Tandi Dorji, general secretary Tenzin Lekphel, Dasho Sherub Gyeltshen and Dr Lotay Tshering among other members, the team is consulting the electorate to understand their issues and concerns better to come up with a people-centered manifesto.

“First, we are introducing the party, its symbol, and its mission to the people – the mission being that of understanding and addressing the widening gap between the rich and poor. Consultation with, and participation of people are the hallmarks of a democratic process,” Tenzin Lekphel told Kuensel from Tsirang.

The party is optimistic about its prospects in the upcoming election.

In 2013, the general secretary said his party did not have adequate time and resources to go on familiarisation tours like they are doing this time. The party got registered with the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) just three months before the election.

“While we still have few more months before National Assembly elections, we thought this was the right time to go around, engage people, and understand them and their aspirations better,” he said.

Tenzin Lekphel said DNT has tried to engage the public in different places on a range of issues through out the last four years. “But if you are talking about our more recent engagements, we started the tour from the eastern dzongkhags towards the end of last year.”

To date, they have visited Trashigang and Pemagatshel in the east and Dagana, Tsirang, Sarpang and Samtse in the south.

The party leaders are meeting coordinators and members in the field. “Apart from familiarising them with our party’s symbol and mission, we stress the importance of their participation in the democratic process, while upholding our national unity in the face of societal divisions brought about by the electoral competitions,” he said.

He said democracy must make the country more united, happier, and stronger.

“We are drawing upon the money collected from membership and registration fees, and contributions from candidates, to fund the tour,” he said.

The party has also decided to serve vegetarian meals during party gatherings.

“As we travelled around the country meeting people, and hosting lunches, we realised that it was getting expensive. For a party that survives on meager fund, we thought taking meat items off the menu would be a good way to reduce cost, especially in the light of abundant supply of vegetables in villages,” he said.

He said the party’s two doctor candidates had encouraged them to go green. “Beyond these reasons, we are also aware of the high economic costs associated with importing meat into our country.”

MB Subba