Saturday, October 20, 2018

Only clean politics will give way for healthy democracy

After almost four months of vigorous battles of ideas and ideology amongst the political parties, the people of Bhutan have finally voted for change. Despite the political turbulence that we had for the past couple of months, the nation as a whole has now come together to respect the decision of the mass. This is the true spirit of a healthy democracy. Druk Nyamrub Tshogpa (DNT) has now been entrusted with the sacred responsibility of serving the king, country and the people of Bhutan for the next five years. But while we embark on another leg of our political journey, there are certainly some lessons we can take from our past experiences.

Democracy is just 10 years old in Bhutan and it is yet to take proper roots in the mindset of the general population. Many people especially the party workers in the villages most of whom are illiterate and ignorant, are misled to believe that politics is everything for them. As a result of this misunderstanding, people are creating unnecessary political divisions in the otherwise harmonious communities. For a small nation like Bhutan, this kind of trend can be very dangerous. As a nation of just 700,000 people, we cannot afford to have dividing lines within ourselves. While healthy debates are important for the success of democracy, they should never compromise the communal peace and harmony that we have been enjoying for centuries. Today, it is very sad to know that many people in the villages are identified with the political parties they have supported during the elections and this has torn the communal bond that had kept them together for years. One thing our politicians and their party workers should know is that democracy is about exercising one’s own right to choose a leader, and not about sidelining others who wish to choose a different leader. They should understand that all the political differences should end with the poll day. Once the election is over, we all should leave our differences behind and come together to celebrate the victory of the nation.

Lately, there was a video trending on WeChat in which a woman can be heard mocking at those who have supported DPT during the recent election. We should never tolerate such developments in Bhutan. The woman in the video has completely misunderstood the meaning of democracy and politics. It is sad that there are still many people in Bhutan who have not yet understood why democracy was gifted to us by His Majesty the Fourth King.

Democracy was introduced in Bhutan to enable us to add our voices to the public debates and exercise our right to choose our own leaders. It was never meant to create unnecessary chaos and disharmony in the society. Our politicians therefore have a moral responsibility to set good examples for us to follow. They should be able to treat both their supporters and non-supporters alike. The risk of promoting regionalism through politics is the greatest fear of our time. We cannot politicize regions and divide people based on their political interests, because not everybody votes for the same party in a particular region. For instance, Pema Gatshel is believed to be a stronghold of DPT but it does not mean that everybody from the Dzongkhag has voted for DPT. There are many people who have voted for DNT as well. So they too should be equally represented in the parliament.

The experiences that we have had so far tell us that although democracy is doing well in Bhutan, we still have a long way to go as a nation to promote mass participation and healthy interactions amongst the politicians, their supporters and the general public. The Election Commission of Bhutan needs to initiate more advocacy programs throughout the year to educate the public on democratic and political processes so that the voters are fully aware of their rights and responsibilities when they head to the polling stations. Today, many people seem to be taking politics too seriously, even to the extent of creating rumors and defaming each other on social media. This is certainly a sad development in Bhutanese politics. We should not tolerate it. His Majesty the King has said that ours is a unique democracy and let us keep it that way forever. Let us not make it dirty just for the sake of securing a few votes from the public. We should now cast all our differences aside and come forward to work hand-in-hand with the government of the day.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Good articulation. It's truly happening in Bhutan which is so sad especially regional division and defamation among each other just to garner votes forgetting the core values of being Bhutanese.