The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) filed a complaint with the election dispute settlement body of Samdrupjongkhar on October 3 against three individuals for spreading false rumours against the party.

The party’s dzongkhag coordinator, Tshering Dorji, told Kuensel that the three individuals based in Samdrupjongkhar in a WeChat group named “Trowa Chat” had allegedly said that India would be unhappy if DPT comes to power.

The three suspects, according to Tshering Dorji, were earlier seen in a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) supporters’ social media group.

DNT’s candidate from Dewathang-Gomdar constituency  Thinley Namgyel said he does not know the individuals. He also said that he was unaware of what they had said.

The DPT coordinator also alleged that one of the individuals in the WeChat group said that Bhutanese residing in the border dzongkhags would be affected if relations between Bhutan and India were not strong.

“They are telling people not to vote for DPT. They have to justify their claims,” he said.

Tshering Dorji said that the suspects had spoken between September 17 and 18. However, he said that the party took time to confirm when the message was spoken.

DPT members Kuensel talked to in Samdrupjongkhar said they could not confirm the three individuals’ party affiliation. “The individuals have resorted to politicisation of foreign relations,” one of the members said.

One of the suspects said that the complainant would have to justify its accusations. Another suspect did not comment while the third was not available.

The suspects are yet to attend a hearing.

Returning officer of Dewathang-Gomdar, Karma Wangchuk Tashi, said that he had advised the DPT coordinator to file the complaint with the dispute settlement body.

According to the ECB Social Media Rules and Regulations 2018, no individual shall communicate/transmit/post hate messages or any content with intent to defame or reduce the electoral chances of an opposing contestant or political party.

The ECB’s notification calling the election states that all electoral stakeholders may use the social media for election or campaign purposes but shall ensure to abide by the Electoral Laws, Election Code of Conduct and specifically adhere to the requirements under the ECB Social Media Rules of the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2018.

MB Subba