The National Council (NC) has been largely silent on contentious issues, including the government’s decision to remove the cut-off point in Class X and the recently released Pay Commission report.

The issues sparked widespread debates and criticisms both on the mainstream and social media. However, deputy chairperson and spokesperson of NC, Jigme Wangchuk, said that the House does not speak merely based on social media discussions.

He said that members arrived at a consensus before making any statement in the public through the media. “We discuss issues only after they come to the House from the National Assembly or Speaker,” he said.

However, he added that a plenary would be called if the members felt that a certain issue needs to be discussed immediately. Citing an example, he added that the House had submitted written concerns to the Cabinet in February regarding the government’s decision to remove the cut off point in Class X. 

The NC stated that the policy was implemented without proper study of its implications. The NC’s view, however, was not released in the public domain.

The NC reportedly questioned the procedural lapses such as non-adherence to the Protocol for Policy Formulation in implementing the election pledge. The House of review feels that such major policy decision merits adequate study given its wide implications.

Removing cut-off point was one of the most significant decisions taken in recent years. The decision was taken by squashing the resolution of the education conference that had decided to implement the policy from 2020.

Jigme Wangchuk said that the letter was written as a note from the House of Review. He said the NC would discuss the Pay Commission report once it reached the House.

Article 11(2) of the Constitution states: “Besides its legislative functions, the National Council shall act as the House of review on matters affecting the security and sovereignty of the country and the interests of the nation and the people that need to be brought to the notice of the Druk Gyalpo, the Prime Minister and the National Assembly.”

The Opposition has also come under criticism from social media users, including former Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay, for silence. The party issued a press release on the fourth Pay Commission report only a week after it was released, but chose to reserve its views until the Cabinet comes up with a final report.

While responding to Dewathang-Gomdar MP Ugyen Dorji’s accusations of lack of development during the last government’s term in the constituency, the former prime minister took to his blog to question the current Opposition’s role in ensuring institutional checks and balances between the ruling and opposition parties.

“So where is the opposition party? I really don’t know. Except, that is, for the Dewathang-Gomdar MP Ugyen Dorji. He was in his constituency recently. And he opposed. Unfortunately, he opposed the previous government, not the current one,” he wrote.

Opposition’s spokesperson Dorji Wangdi chose not to comment on the former prime minister’s remarks saying that they were not constructive.

Article 18 of the Constitution states that the opposition party must play a constructive role to ensure that the government and the ruling party function in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, provide good governance and strive to promote the national interest and fulfil the aspirations of the people.

Cut-off removal ignited a war of words online between opposition leader (Dr) Pema Gyamtsho and NC Chairperson Tashi Dorji.

The opposition leader earlier said that it was up to the Constitutional bodies like the NC to review the government’s decision and to come up with a resolution on whether the government had violated the Constitution. The NC Chairperson responded through his official Facebook page, accusing the opposition party of trying to drag the House of Review into a political difference between the ruling and opposition parties.

Dorji Wangdi said the NC had written to the government on the cut-off point only after the heated exchange between the opposition leader and the chairperson.

He said that the NC’s action on the cut-off point came only after the policy was already implemented. “There is no use of such moves. It was too late.”

MB Subba