More than a thousand voters turned up for the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa president Lotay Tshering’s meeting yesterday morning. 

It was the only meeting for the entire dzongkhag and was streamed live on social media. 

Lotay Tshering said that while the country has prospered, the same could not be said about the people. 

“The country is graduating out of the least developed country status but the people are still poor,” he said. “Look around. We are surrounded by rich countries and poor people. We have to adopt a different approach to development.”

He said that the usual development works would continue no matter which party comes to power. 

DNT pledged to end woola (free labour) contributions in rural areas to build roads or water supply lines. 

Lotay Tshering said the government does everything from building roads to water supply lines in towns but in rural areas the people have to contribute free labour. “Why such difference?” 

The party will also review the national holidays, as some of the holidays are not universal occasions. 

“DPT has been only harping on equity and justice but have they done it?” he said.  

The party pledged to implement the 12th Plan as it is. 

While DNT studied the youth issue to come up with interventions in the manifesto, they found out that one of the main reasons for youth unemployment were students dropping out of class 10. 

The party president said they are too young, not qualified, matured or skilled enough to get proper work. “No matter how much the hydropower earns in revenue, if the youth are left uncared for this way, then it is not done,” he said. “It is illegal to ask those who dropped out of class 10 to look for work as no one below 18 years qualifies to sign checks, work, or marry as they are still not adults.” 

Children breastfed exclusively for six months will be healthy and will fall sick fewer times but only 15 percent of the mothers, who are civil servants, in the country avail of this benefit, he said. “Going by this trend, children of mothers who are roadside workers, and working on the farms will be weak both physically and mentally.”

This scheme, he said, will benefit about 8,000 mothers in the country and will cost only half a billion ngultrum. “But we cannot wait and the government have to get funds from anywhere to secure a future rid of drug abuse and youth problems,” Lotay Tshering said. 

However, he said that these services would come overnight, gradually. 

“But we at least need a plan or else such things will never come,” he said. 

He also touched on the other two pledges of the party to provide free Wi-Fi and improving health services. 

“Give a new party with new ideas a chance to prove it can be done,” he said. “DPT has served earlier and could not do it so they think that we may not be able to do it.” 

DNT has clear pledges in the hydropower sector and will give all policy support needed to implement the Druk Green Power Corporation’s plans, the president said.  

“While they have pledged three projects, we also pledge two large and smaller projects each. There is nothing more needed.”

Lotay Tshering said there are many affluent people, who have benefitted from DPT’s term and are now back going around may be even distributing money. 

“Today, we have retired ministers of DPT supporting the party’s new candidates going round with money and seeking support,” he said. 

Lotay Tshering said they are not working for the interest of democracy. “Looks like they are serving their own interests,” he said. “This election is not between the two parties but for the sustained peaceful future of the country.” 

Lotay Tshering said that since 2008, parties have engaged in mudslinging every election. In 2008 many PDP supporters suffered losing work and business. Similarly, in 2013 many DPT supporters suffered the same way. “Now the PDP supporters would be apprehensive of what would happen to them, if DPT comes to power.” 

He said DNT would put an end to this and set a unique precedent. 

The DNT president also held a meeting in Athang -Thedtsho constituency on the way to Thimphu for his debate on television yesterday. He will campaign in Paro today.

Tshering Palden | Tsirang