MB Subba

Iron Female Ox Year-Politics: The tenure of the government entered the third year, but the Covid-19 pandemic limited political activities last year.

Apart from the bye-elections there were not many political activities. The party presidents of Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) and Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) did not visit the constituencies to campaign although the past year saw three bye-elections.

The DNT increased its seats in the House from 31 to 33 last year. It won the Nganglam and Khamdang Ramjar constituencies as new seats in the National Assembly, while it retained the Mongar constituency. DNT officials said that the bye-elections were an indication that people were happy with the performance of the government.

Parties outside Parliament made their presence felt and kept a check on the government questioning decisions and policies. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in November accused the finance minister of “recklessly misusing” Nu 19 from the General Reserve (GR) to meet the capital expenditure of gewogs in Paro in the financial year 2020-21. The party called on concerned agencies to correct the wrongdoing of the finance minister and hold him accountable. The Opposition Party also accused the government of policy corruption and violating the Constitution and public finance resource allocation formula (RAF).

The change in the Cabinet – former labour minister Ugyen Dorji becoming the home minister in September last year and the new Nganglam MP, Karma Dorji the new labour minister didn’t bode well with some in the DNT.

Some members from the ruling party expressed dissatisfaction on the government’s move while some serving MPs said that they had expected one of the senior MPs to be appointed as a new minister. A voice clip in which a person claiming to be a DNT supporter from Athang-Thedtsho constituency said he would not support the ruling party in the upcoming election after the appointment of the new minister.

One of the vice presidents of DPT, Lily Wangchuk, resigned from the party in August last year.

As she was not elected, she said her positive contributions to the party from within became challenging. She said that she could not contribute to the nation as much as she wanted.

In another development, the DPT appointed former executive director of the Guide Association, Sonam Tashi, as its new Secretary General in August 2021. He is also a former journalist.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) also appointed former journalist Kuenga Tashi as its new secretary general in July last year.

Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP) remained silent most part of the year.

BKP in July 2021 was featured on the national TV where the party claimed that it will not only take part in the next parliamentary elections but would win the 2023 election. The party did not come into the limelight since.

The People’s Democratic Party in September last year criticised the government for implementing the new academic assessment criteria midway this year. The Opposition Party raised its concerns over the ruling party’s proposal to ‘discontinue drafting the Five-Year Plan’.

The DPT questioned the ‘abrupt’ decision to discontinue the ‘time-tested’ development planning tradition of preparing a draft Five-Year Plans. It stated that the change would have huge implications, seriously disrupting the socio-economic development and overall governance of the country.