People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has decided to replace at least 10 serving MPs with new candidates and the number is likely to increase, Kuensel has learnt from sources within the party.  

The ruling party has 33 members in the 47-member National Assembly. The country has three months to go before the government completes its term. 

Prime Minister and party president Tshering Tobgay recently informed the MPs of the party’s inability to give them tickets by calling them individually to his office, one of the MPs that are being replaced said, requesting anonymity.  

The party is said to have taken the decision based on feedback received from trusted sources. 

In the tentative list of serving members that are being replaced are both the MPs from Dagana – labour minister Ngeema Sangay Tshempo from Lhamoizingkha and Drujeganag-Tseza MP Karma Dorji. 

Other serving members that are likely to be replaced are Tashichhoeling MP Ritu Raj Chhetri and Ugyentse Yoeseltse MP MK Chhetri, both from Samtse, Gopal Gurung from Gelephu and Rinzin Dorji from Sarpang’s Sompangkha constituency. 

Also on the list to pave way for new candidates are Pelzang Wangchuk from Jomotshangkha in Samdrupjongkhar, Dophu Dukpa from Kabisa-Talog in Punakha, Kesang D Wangmo from Doga-Shaba in Paro and Tshewang Jurmi from Chumey-Ura in Bumthang. 

Sources said that some of the MPs are on observation and that the party would take a decision regarding their candidature.  

The party has said that Kezang D Wangmo has voluntarily asked for replacement, saying that she is planning to pursue higher studies. 

Tshewang Jurmi said that the party has not taken any decision regarding his candidature in the upcoming election. But Kuensel learnt that Trongsa dzongdag Sonam Rinchen is set to join PDP as its candidate from Tshewang Jurmi’s constituency. 

The party’s secretary general Sonam Jatso denied of having taken an official decision regarding the replacement of candidates. 

“We haven’t decided (as to how many new candidates would come). The prime minister may take the decision by the middle or end of this month,” he said. 

The general secretary, however, said that some MPs have voluntarily come forward saying that they would not contest in 2018 and that non-performing MPs would be replaced. 

He said that there was an understanding that members worked hard to earn a ticket. 

“The prime minister has informed there has to be a change if an MP does not have support from the people. They have been told to work hard,” he said. 

Sonam Jatso said that the party’s candidate selecting committee and executive committee collectively take decisions when it comes to finalising candidates. 

“The candidate selecting committee makes presentation to the executive and the decision is taken collectively,” he said. 

In an earlier interview, he had said that winnability was the most important criteria for distributing election tickets to aspiring candidates. 

Pelzang Wangchuk said he voluntarily informed the prime minister that he would not re-contest. “I have got the opportunity to serve the country and fulfilled my pledges. I am satisfied with my tenure,” he said. 

However, one of the outgoing MPs requesting anonymity said he felt betrayed by the party, saying that he had worked hard for the party over the last 10 years. 

“After having given my best, it’s not justifiable (to the people). I am worried about how the party is functioning,” he said, adding that some of the MPs are on the fence. 

The MP said that replacing a significant number of candidates would weaken the party’s chances in the election but the party leadership thinks otherwise. Some chose not to comment. 

Meanwhile, the government put labour minister on paid leave since January for an alleged corruption case in training programmes facilitated by the ministry. Dewathang Gomdar MP Mingbo Dukpa and Speaker Jigme Zangpo will retire due to age. 

MB Subba