Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, who is also the president of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has warned replaced MPs not to speak against the party.
Sources within the party said the prime minister conveyed the message on May 30 at a meeting in the National Assembly conference hall where all the cabinet ministers and MPs were present.
The prime minister told the serving MPs that speaking against party interest on social media and other platforms would lead to expulsion from the party, sources said.
MPs and ministers were also warned that they would automatically lose their post if they were expelled from the party. Further, the prime minister warned that they would not be entitled to some of the benefits if they have to vacate their post prematurely.
The prime minister’s warning comes in the wake of disapproval expressed by some MPs over their replacement. Some of the MPs had offered to be replaced while others were replaced despite their wish to re-contest.
One of the MPs whose replacement was announced yesterday said it was “almost voluntary” in his case. Another said he voluntarily offered his replacement.
According to the election Act 2008, only registered party members can seek election to the National Assembly, which means a person ceases to be an MP once the party terminates his or her membership.
The prime minister has met all the replaced MPs personally to inform them about the party’s decision to not give the ticket.
Speaking at the meeting with editors and senior journalists on May 18, the prime minister said that no serving MP or no party member could undermine the party.
He said it was human nature to complain. “But if this lead to compromising the integrity, credibility and reputation of the party, then we will have to consider removing that member from the party,” he said.
The prime minister argued that an MP could not undermine the party’s prospects while as a member. “So this is something that we will look at very seriously.”
The party, he said, would be compelled to expel them if the actions of the MPs who have been replaced go beyond just expressing unhappiness and undermine the party’s credibility and integrity.
The prime minister said that a few had been causing disturbances at the grassroots.
He said that he had decided to replace some of the serving MPs based on feedback from the people and their performance both in the constituency and in Parliament. He said that a committee of senior members finalises candidates.
Some of the incumbent MPs, prime minister said, had not been to their constituency as much as they should have. “And we received lot of complaints and some of them had not participated meaningfully in the Parliament. Other had not taken part in committee work for whatever reasons,” he said.
He added that MPs could not take the party ticket for granted. “If you are not electable, if people don’t want you, our responsibility then is to acknowledge and work on that.”
He said that although the decision to replace incumbent MPs was sensitive, it had to be done. According to him, some of the MPs have taken the decision positively and have expressed their desire to continue working for the party.
With PDP replacing Bumthang’s Chumey-Ura MP Tshewang Jurmey, Tsholingkhar-Mendrelgang MP Yogesh Tamang and Gelephu MP Gopal Gurung yesterday, the party now has officially replaced about 12 candidates, excluding Speaker Jigme Zangpo and Dewathang-Gomdar MP Mingbo Dukpa who will not qualify due to age.
PDP MPs who are being replaced are Kezang D Wangmo from Dogar-Shabha in Paro, MP Rinzin Dorji from Sarpang’s Shompangkha constituency and Pelzang Wangchuk from Jomostangkha-Martshala in Samdrupjongkhar.
Samtse’s Ritu Raj Chhetri from Tashichhoeling, MP Tek Bahadur Subba from Dopuchen-Tading and Madan Kumar Chhetri from Ugyentse-Yoseltse and MP Dophu Dukpa from Punakha’s Kabji-Talo constituency have been replaced.
The party has also announced replacements for Drujyegang-Tseza MP Karma Dorji and Ngeema Sangay Tshempo from Lhamoizingkha-Tashiding constituency.
Meanwhile, the oppositon, Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) has so far replaced three MPs, Jigme Wangchuk from Radhi- Skating, Dechen Zangmo form Nanong- Shumar and Wangdi Norbu from Barshong-Shongphu.
DPT MP Ugyen Wangdi said all the three voluntarily offered to be replaced. He admitted that the support for Jigme Wangchuk was not very strong in the constituency.