The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) kicked off its campaign from Paro with party president Pema Gyamtsho inaugurating the party’s dzongkhag office in Wangcha gewog yesterday morning.

Speaking at the first campaign meeting, which was attended by about 400 members and supporters, the DPT president said that self-reliance would be the party’s first priority although the party has not officially launched its manifesto.

“We will distribute our manifesto for the people to see. It’s ready,” he said.

“Self-reliance has to be achieved to strengthen the country’s security and sovereignty.

Development of hydropower projects, he said, would be prioritised to achieve the goal of self-reliance by 2025.

Among others, the DPT president also said that if elected, his government would prioritise employment generation and development of the tourism and agriculture sectors. “We will also solve both the drinking and irrigation water problems,” he said.

Pema Gyamtsho said that the party would develop Paro throm into an urban centre that will have all modern amenities.

He said that Paro as one of the most beautiful dzongkhags in the country reflected Bhutan’s image to the foreigners.

He also said that the party’s candidates comprise of people from various works and educational backgrounds from all age groups. “We have everything, including the best candidates. Now, what we need is your support.”

Also present at the meeting were former minister from Lamgong-Wangcha constituency, Khandu Wangchuk, and former speaker Jigme Tshultim. Phub Tshering, the dzongkhag’s former dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) chairman is contesting this election since Khandu Wangchuk is ineligible to contest due to the age limit.

“Time has come for the younger generation to take over the responsibility,” Khandu Wangchuk said, adding that Phub Tshering was one of the most capable candidates from the constituency. He said the people needed to choose strong representatives in Parliament.

“He is neither my relative nor from my village. I came to know him while he was a gup and DT chairman,” he said.

He said their government initiated the construction of three hydropower projects. “And by the time I resigned as the economic affairs minister in 2013, we were all set to sign MoU for development of six more hydropower projects.”

He said the country’s revenue couldn’t be increased without implementing hydropower projects.

However, he said that there was no single new hydropower project implemented during the last five years. “Even Kholongchu project is in limbo today,” Khandu Wangchuk said.

His party, he said, stopped the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) motor vehicle agreement in the interest of the transporters and the country at large.

The Lamgong-Wangcha candidate said that he was honoured to be chosen as the candidate.

He said the dzongkhag had not seen the kind of development Paro deserves in the last five years.

Most of the development works in his constituency, he said, were carried out in the DPT government’s time.

“Paro hospital is third biggest in terms of the number of patients. However, most of the specialists were taken to Thimphu, saying that Paro is near to the capital,” he said.

The DPT president then headed to Naja gewog centre in Paro, where he met with the people of the gewog. He also held a meeting with a group of core supporters at Naja.

Speaking at the Naja gewog centre, the DPT president cautioned the public not to be lured by money, gifts, mobile vouchers and false promises if there were any to offer them.

“There can be people who would offer money, vouchers and other helps for electoral gains. Such practices are corrupt practices and should be avoided,” he said.

Pema Gyamtsho said that some of the parties are defaming other parties in the course of their electoral campaign. “Those who climb up by pulling others down are not good people,” he said.

The DPT president arrived in Haa yesterday evening and met with the party supporters in Haa town.  The president today will meet the people of Bji-Kartso-Uesu, representatives of the business community of Haa and the people of Samar gewog.

MB Subba | Paro