The two party presidents, Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s (DPT) Pema Gyamtsho and Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa’s (DNT) Lotay Tshering have started commenting on and rebutting each party’s pledges during their campaigns. 

Speaking at Rangjung in Trashigang yesterday, DNT’s president, Lotay Tshering, reiterated the party’s commitment to encourage children to study until class XII and to provide an allowance for mothers in rural areas to encourage exclusive breast-feeding.

He said that his party had come up with new programmes thinking that the existing policies were inadequate.

“For instance, we cannot solve the unemployment problems by sending youths abroad. Most of the unemployment cases are the inability of children to meet the cut off point in class 10,” he said, adding that DNT’s pledges were well researched.

Lotay Tshering said that the party did not promise to provide free education up to class 12 to garner votes.  “Our pledges are aimed at striking at the root of problems.”

About 85 percent of mothers, according Lotay Tshering, lived in villages and they needed to be provided with maternity allowances. He said that providing the allowance to rural mothers would help Bhutan produce healthy children.

“In our estimates, it does not cost more than half a billion ngultrums. Our children will be healthy and intelligent and we hope such measures will reduce youth problems such as abuse of drugs and school drop out cases,” he said. 

He also responded to DPT’s criticism that providing free wifi was not doable.“Free wifi will be helpful for people for information and communication. We want to provide free internet, not intranet,” he said.

Providing free wifi, he said, would only cost about Nu 300 million. “And this is doable.”

Lotay Tshering appealed to the people to give a chance to his party arguing that new parties bring new ideas and that the party had candidates from various professional backgrounds.

DPT President Pema Gyamtsho said election manifestos were the basis on which the electorate decided to whom and which party their votes went to.

Pema Gyamtsho was speaking at a campaign meeting in Dagana’s Drujegang-Tseza constituency on September 25 in response to Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa’s (DNT) recent statement that political parties needed to focus on their own pledges rather than criticizing others’.

DPT says that talking about the merits and demerits of the pledges would help voters choose a party or candidate.

According to DPT, election campaigns involved more than going around to meet the people to promise how many ministers a political party would appoint from each dzongkhag.

People might try to make false promises during an election period, Pema Gyamtsho said. “But, they can latter get away by saying the former governments had not left money to implement to deliver the promises.”

He cautioned the voters to scrutinise the election pledges before making decision to vast their votes.

Pema Gyamtsho said he criticised DNT’s promise to do away with cutoff point in class 10. “We needed to understand whether the promise contradicts with the country’s policy and provisions in the Constitution and other Acts,” Pema Gyamtsho said.

DNT has criticized DPT’s pledges while defending its own.   

At a time when the country has churned out 1,700MW and is plagued by hydropower debt of Nu 113 billion, DPT pledges to achieve 10,000MW in 10 years, Lotay Tshering said, according to the post made on the party’s facebook page. 

“We cannot imagine the muddle, influx of foreign workers and comprises on various fronts. Besides unimaginable socio-cultural problems, debts will shoot over a 1,000 billion, forcing us into debt crisis, just a step ahead of a failed state,” he said.

DNT also states that hydropower resources would be turned into the biggest plight if the private sector were involved in the sector. He cited corruption risks and possible income disparity with the private sector’s involvement in the hydropower sector.  

“When four parties contested in the primary, it was difficult to who initiated false claims and accusations against our party. Now that we are up against DPT, we know where the rumours against our pledges are coming from,” he said. “DPT will criticise our pledges because they cannot comprehend out of the box unconventional ideas. Leave it to us, we will show how its done.” 

MB Subba