Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay yesterday defended his decision to replace some of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) MPs with new ones.

Speaking at the meeting with editors yesterday, he said, “We have to announce our candidates. Seven were ready and you can expect many more,” he said.

Prime minister said that the party has already decided to replace four of the existing candidates who wanted themselves to be replaced. Two incumbent MPs of Samdrupjongkhar and Mongar do not qualify because of the age, he said.

In addition to that, he said that so far the prime minister had talked with seven MPs and informed of the party’s position that they will be replaced with new candidates. “When I say party’s decision, we have a small committee of senior party members looking at the viability of existing all candidates and finalising the candidates.”

Regarding the incumbent MPs, prime minister said he reported to the executive committee who endorsed the committee’s recommendation to replace seven MPs. According to him, of the seven MPs, two for Sipsso and Dagana will be replaced. Talo-Kabji MP Dophu Dukpa wanted to be replaced.

“Why replacement? At the grassroots level, there are confusions like who is going to be the candidate for 2018. So, obviously, incumbent MPs will serve their term but party will be having a different candidate.”

He said that the party needed to see if the MP has worked hard in the constituency. “Has an MP taken care of his or her constituency? Has he or she worked in the Parliament? Has he or she worked hard in the committees? Have MPs represented the constituencies well? Have they supported the party?”

In some cases, he said he had to say they had not been to the constituency as much as they should have. He said he had received complaints and some of them had not participated meaningfully in the Parliament. Some failed to take part in committee work.

“In the party also some of them were reluctant to work. In fact, some of them voted against the party. All these things are considered. Your winnability is not enough. People must have somebody who they are comfortable with,” he said. “But this lead to compromising the integrity of the party, compromising the credibility of the party, compromising the reputation of the party, then we will have to consider removing that party member from the party.”

He said that three years ago he had said announced the criteria to all the candidates and ministers. “No MPs is guaranteed ticket, no ministers are guaranteed tickets, and no MPs or ministers are guaranteed portfolios. This was made clear over the last three years.”

Prime minister said what is important is to build a party that is good for the country, that can fulfil people’s aspirations and can strengthen democracy.

Rinzin Wangchuk