Singing their hearts out, people of Kanglung, Samkhar, and Udzorong gewogs in Trashigang awaited the arrival of the People’s Democratic party’s (PDP) president yesterday.

People gathered in large numbers at the gewog meeting hall in Kanglung to meet president. While waiting, party coordinators decided to engage the people gathered in a medley of traditional songs. This went on for almost 30 minutes.

President Tshering Tobgay thanked the crowd.

“I’m here to seek your support for the elections. Will you support our party this time?” asked the president.

The crowd roared in support.

Tshering Tobgay said that while the response was encouraging, it was important for the public to carefully weigh all the parties and their pledges and then exercise their franchise. “Democracy is a gift from our King. You all have been given the power. Use it responsibly.”

He said that while all the four parties were competing to woo votes through different means and measures, it was crucial that the people decide on their own as to who should get their valued votes.

“The new parties say that they want opportunity and that we should not allow one or two parties to take roots in our democracy,” said the president. “Your votes are not to change parties every five years. If the party is good and works for the betterment of the people and the country, let it take roots. If not, then you have the duty to uproot it.”

The president said that PDP in the last five years have executed all the pledges that were made during the 2013 elections. In addition, the party had also executed activities that were not promised then, he said. “With all the potential candidates we have in the party, whatever we are pledging today, we are absolutely sure to achieve them all.”

He summarised the party pledges that would help bring in rural development. He said that while the pledges were new, works to achieve all the activities were all carried out in the last five years.

The president explained the importance of having better road connectivity for rural development. For this, he said that soling would be done in all the farm roads. He added that each gewog would receive an excavator to help maintain the roads.

On health, the president said that each gewog would receive a vehicle just to carry patients. Adequate number of doctors would also be deployed in all the Basic Health Units, he said.

“There will be no shortage of doctors as many would be completing their studies and returning home,” he said. The introduction of MBBS programme at Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB) would also ease the shortage of doctors, said the president.

He said that more central schools would be established and the sustainability of the schools would not be a problem.  The president said that revenues generated from mining would be used for the sustainability of these schools. In addition, each chiwog would be provided with early childcare and development (ECCD) centres.

Improved telecommunication network along with 24-7 drinking water supply and uninterrupted irrigation water were guaranteed, he said.

The president said that for rural development, it was important to empower the local government. Along with the salary revision for the civil servants, PDP would also increase the Gewog Development Grant from Nu 20 million (M) to Nu 50M, he said. An addition of Nu 200M would be provided to execute any major activities in the gewogs.

To promote tourism in the east, along with the waver of royalty for tourists visiting eastern Bhutan, the president said that Yonphula airport would operate daily flights. “We are getting a new aircraft that would have technology that could see through fogs,” he said. “The northern east-west highway is almost completed. This would also add to the tourist arrival in the east.”

On employment, the president said that some 77,000 youths were employed in the last five years and about 6,000 youth were sent abroad to work. “There are many who want to go out and work. For this we have already talked with five countries who have agreed to help us with employment.”

He reminded the crowd: “You all have a responsibility bestowed by our king. Exercise it carefully and make sure to go and vote.”

Following the meeting in Kanglung, the president left for Khaling and Wamrong in the evening. PDP will conclude their campaign for the primary round in Langchenphu gewog in Samdrupjongkhar today.

Younten Tshedup | Kanglung