MPs are finally meeting their constituents after a very long time due to Covid-19 restrictions and other inconveniences that the pandemic presented. The national development—the 12th Plan priorities—have changed significantly; budget allocations had to be restructured; and the many development activities, important as they are for the people and communities, had to hit the wall. For a large proportion of Bhutanese, particularly in the villages and communities far away from Thimphu, we are yet to understand what all these new arrangements and readjustments truly mean.
In a democracy where individuals and people’s representatives can pledge development of important services like construction of roads and bridges and link the people to the world beyond their doorsteps, things such as the situation we are in now, can become a complex issue. Local governments and the bureaucracy have their share of problems to deal with. What these realities can and, indeed, take us to is the gap that can only widen if our people’s representatives do not meet their constituents to explain and educate them on the changes that are unfolding.
It is in this perspective that we should understand the importance of the MPs’ visit to their constituencies. The general feeling today, from the ground up, is that MPs have reneged on the promises that they made and neglected the people and their development needs and aspirations. There is a gap—of information. The people will understand the “rationalisation” and “reprioritisation” of national development plans and budget only if there is an effort made to explain it all to them, in the language that they can understand. This is the responsibility of the MPs whom they voted into the high office.
If the MPs fail to explain the new and emerging realities to the people, their constituency visits will prove to be not only futile but also costly and dangerous in the long run. We have the benefit of improved connectivity today. MPs and their constituents can meet and discuss development needs and priorities on various social media platforms. But nothing can beat contact-consultation. That’s why the MPs must leave out their high-flying dreams and get real.
The need of the nation today is, simply put, not about the MPs’ constituency visits, neither is it about the development activities in the communities. The priority is about harnessing our latent power. We are talking about making the most out of our common national goal in the era that can be defined in so many ways. Ultimately, if the leaders cannot act—logically, sensibly, and nationally—there will not be trust in a system that guarantees a long-term development of Bhutan.
The MPs going home, so, is just a beginning—real, significant, overture, so to speak. What they make out of it all must be documented and made public. Put it simply, it is easier to talk about accountability that way. The MPs owe that much, at least, to their constituents.