Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP) delayed the start of its convention for nearly an hour as people poured in and the Royal Institute of Management hall in Semtokha ran out of chairs.

The party’s candidates sacrificed their chairs and quickly arranged for more. Some of them apologised for the lack of chairs as more people were ushered in to seat on the carpet.

Overwhelmed by the turnout which the party estimates at more than 6,500 people, the BKP president Dasho Neten Zangmo spoke at length to thank the gathering and applauded with more than 25 leksos and clapped for 10 seconds.

“Your presence here today shows that you are concerned for the good of the country and I’m happy beyond measure,” she said, almost choking. “If we are truly concerned then there is nothing impossible.”

“Your trust and our courage are our only weapons, not money or power, in the fight to win this election,” Dasho Neten Zangmo said. “People call us a nyamchung (humble) party and we are also a strong party.”

She said that BKP would not resort to immoral acts to win the elections but set a precedence of clean politics. “We’re not afraid to lose.”

While there are many offering donations in millions, she said, the party accepts only those that are within the permissible limit set by the laws and avoids running the risk of being misused in the future when it forms the government.

Dasho Neten Zangmo splashed her speech with anecdotes of villagers still struggling for basic facilities and services in the remote corners of the country.

“We’re visiting all these places and not shunning them because there aren’t many voters in those places, we’ll not leave anyone behind – that’s what BKP stands for,” she said.

She said that the party is also creating awareness on democracy.

She said that with a little more than a year of experience in politics, she has found that it is extremely difficult in politics and said that many things have to improve. She said that the political parties can and should work together in the common interest.

The political parties can do a lot of good and they can do bad too but if the people are able, concerned and strong then they cannot act against the interest of the country.

She said that if Bhutanese think as one for the sustained wellbeing, self-reliance, and sovereignty of the nation, the goals could materialise.

She also stressed on the importance of making the household, village, gewog, dzongkhag, and the country self-reliant.

“There is no need to blame instead think of how to invest the loans we take,” she said.

“We also need to be grateful for the peace and harmony in our lives to our deities, beloved Monarchs, and our parents,” she said.

“We’re a small country and we’ve the great opportunity to either ruin ourselves or rise to become a great nation,” Dasho Neten Zangmo said. “We all have the freedom and power to decide which one we want.”

“Let’s open our hearts. Let’s go beyond Thimphu and explore together. We don’t need to look outside. We have everything we need within ourselves. I have seen it across the length and breadth of our country with my own two eyes.”

She also touched on the need to go beyond the rhetoric and prioritise the private sector and its growth as the engine of the economy and the need of platform for people’s voices.

BKP vice president Sonam Tobgay said that BKP looks beyond the five-year term. He talked about the party’s commitment to cleaner government, ensuring that everyone has equal opportunity to grow and remove all sorts of nepotism and discrimination in the civil service.

“BKP envisions a Bhutan where the best and the brightest will be given the opportunity to excel for the benefit of the country,” he said.

The party will also work on providing the most enabling environment for the contribution of the private sector to Bhutan’s prosperity, he said.

Other pledges included 100 percent coverage of the irrigation and drinking water, and investing in giving skills to the youth to get jobs and to prosper in those that they have.

“Under the visionary leadership of His Majesty The King, the party is confident that it can provide a government that functions for all of us,” he said.

Some candidates said that the party could not invite many from the dzongkhags for the convention given the costs except for party coordinators. The organisers had arranged to accommodate about 2,500 attendants from the dzongkhags and supporters. However, the party had invested in the organisation of the convention, hiring professionals to manage the filming of the programme and live streaming it on YouTube where it had more than 3,500 views.

The participants were served meals cooked behind the meeting hall and catered by candidates and their relatives. Candidates were seen helping volunteers serve refreshment, carrying trays of juice and cartons of bottled water.

The convention also endorsed the Party’s president Dasho Neten Zangmo, vice president Sonam Tobgay, general secretary Dawa Rinchen, treasurer Karma Jimba, internal auditor Sabitman Rai, and the 15 members of the executive committee.

The party also declared its 47 candidates at the convention comprising of several retired senior civil servants holding posts of government secretaries, directors generals, a deputy governor of RMA, commissioners and directors. Others included businessmen, entreprenuers, and youth.

The party has seven women candidates.

The convention also endorsed the dzongkhag and gewog coordinators.

Tshering Palden