If the candidates are to determine the party’s fate, the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) claims that it has the depth.

Wherever he campaigns, party president Pema Gyamtsho never forgets to flash the banner with mugshots of the party’s 47 candidates and highlight the experience and capability of the candidates.

“If the pledges are to be realised, we have to look at the capabilities of the candidates, not just one from your constituency, but the whole team,” Pema Gyamtsho said.

He added that DPT was criticised for fielding in young and inexperienced candidates. “This is not true, we have a good blend of leaders.”

The party, he said, had 17 candidates with parliamentary experience, some of whom served for 10 years an MP. “Three of the five women has served one term in the National Assembly; two are equally capable,” he said, adding that Lilly Wangchuk was a party’s vice president and Tshering Choden secured highest votes in the primary round from Khar-Yurung.

The party has three former ministers, including the president himself; Thakur Singh Powdyel from Samtse and Dorji Wangdi from Zhemgang needed no introduction.

Among the new candidates, Pema Gyamtsho said the party has gathered a pool of representatives with expertise. Qualification wise, he said DPT had the best to offer. “A medical doctor, a veterinary doctor, three candidates with PhD in environment, media and agriculture, we have a pool of experts and doers.”

The party also has four candidates below 30. “We need them, youth will understand the youth issues better,” he said, adding that it was also to maintain a continuity. “Going by how they speak during the debate, we made the right choice.”

Both the candidates in Gasa are below 30 and party takes pride in fielding the first graduate from Lunana. “If youth are not given an opportunity how can they prove their capacity,” he said.

Pema Gyamtsho, however, said the party lacked a couple of ingredients. “We don’t have rich candidates. All of us are sons and daughters of farmers, raised in the villages and farms.” He made an exception to Lilly Wangchuk.

DPT, he said did not approach senior civil servants.

“A few approached us, but they wanted the party to finance their campaign. When we declined, the alternative was a ministerial post,” he said.

Experience, he said, was crucial to run the government. “There is no time to undergo training and to do test runs. One mistake could have serious implications to the nation and the people.”

Tshering Dorji | Bumthang