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Press Release


Druk National Congress of Bhutan





Dzongkha Edition

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NO. 2
June-August, 2013
Druk National Congress - Political Organization of Bhutan


PDP wins the General Election

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) won 32 of the 47 seats in the National Assembly to form the government for the next five years.  The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) which was the incumbent party won 15 seats.

The voter turnout was at 66.07 percent, a drop from the 79.3 percent of the 2008 General Elections. In 2008 general election, DPT won 45 seats, while PDP had won only two seats.

Tshering Tobagy is the new Prime Minister

Tshering Tobagay ,48 years, became the new Prime Minister of Bhutan after the result of recent general elections.  He formed the PDP government with the induction of ten ministers on July 26.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has allocated four ministers to the east region, three ministers to South region, one minister to central region and two ministers to west region. For the first time in the country’s history, PDP appointed Mrs. Dorji Chhoden as first woman minister and a lone one.

The Druk National Congress extended its Tashi Delek to the new Prime  Minister  and  the Council of Ministers. Its felicitation message reads, “ We are confident that Your Excellency will steer the Kingdom towards a prosperous and peaceful future by serving the Tsa-Wa-Sum with utmost dedication. The DNC assures Your Excellency and the Royal Government of Bhutan support in all its endeavors to serve the Bhutanese people”


King intervenes in the General Elections?

The Constitution of Bhutan and Election Act has many provisions to pave the way for a level playing field. However, there are disturbing reports emanating from Bhutan which doesn’t augur well for the health of democracy and the institution of monarchy. Some people allege that the fifth King in person had personally campaigned in five dzongkhag in favour of one political party against the other. The King had had also instructed army officials and senior civil servants officers to oversee the postal ballots of its people to vote for a favored political party. Besides, on the eve of the general election, the 205 Gups and hundreds of local government officials received a call from the royal secretariat, directing the people to vote for a favored party. By this diving into electoral politics, the people believe that the King’s actions violated the Constitutional Article 2 section 1 and 2, which says King is the symbol of unity of the Kingdom and of the people of Bhutan and upholder of Chhoe-sid-nyi (Temporal and ecclesiastical). How can King, a symbol of unity of the Kingdom and above politics, indulge in electoral politics of parties? The people believe the King had sowed the seeds of disunity among people in the kingdom. Article 2 section 15, which says, “King shall not be answerable in a court of law for His actions and His person shall be sacrosanct”, provides protection to the Monarch. There is no law to reign in the Monarch.

One can never be certain whether his personal intervention affected the outcome of elections and the fortunes of one party, but one thing is certain, the level playing field has been certainly violated.

If the allegations are true, the fifth King has set a bad precedent, which will be counterproductive for the institution of monarchy in the long run. The absence of the fifth King at the commencement of first session of historical 2nd National Assembly is linked to his action, unbecoming of an impartial and just Monarch.  Such issues will remain as long as genuine democracy is absent in Bhutan.

How PDP won the elections !!

People’s Democratic Party has won handsomely over the Druk Phuentsum Tshogpa party in the recent elections.  Most of DPT followers and its leadership were stunned. It was a deja vu when it came to the aftermath of the events. When PDP lost the elections of 2008, some 500 people from Punakha and Wangdiphodrang approached the King and expressed their displeasure in the election process and democracy. The difference in 2008 was that PDP leadership, under Lyonpo Sangay Nidup, accepted the people’s mandate after complaining on few things here and there. But, DPT leadership went further. They threatened to dissolve the party and decided that the 15 winning candidates should refrain from taking the opposition role in National Assembly least their presence gives the credence to winning Party. Such notion was treasonable in simplest term. Not adhering to the precept of constitution is treasonable offence. They were however saved by the King when he gave assurance to their ad hominem appeal. For the people closely monitoring the election, the result was purely on the choice of people and they have given their mandate. Despite democracy being exclusive, the result proves that democracy is consolidating albeit slowly. For democrats, there is much to cheer for. DPT did submit their 15 points to the King, bypassing the EC and the High Court. The DPT leadership was mostly from the bureaucracy and their mindset continues to be so. They have always been habituated to their careers swirling upwards. Unfortunately, their action reveals that they lack democracy education and politician astuteness. Winning and losing is part and parcel of politician’s life in democratic setup.

How did a party who won 33 seats in the primary round a month ago lose 18 seats and win only 15 seats? There are many factors external and internal. The external factors are purely speculative, the internal factors were decisive. The first factor was the Lhotshampa votes. In this election, the Lhotshampa community delivered 12 seats to PDP. The Lhotshampa community is in majority in 8 seats and decisive in 4 seats. Every Bhutanese, including the DPT, knows that the census and citizenship crisis is their sole problem affecting their life. They gave DPT five year opportunity to resolve their issues, but their unsolved issues continues hereafter, and instead it was declared that it was the King’s prerogative to grant citizenships. This time around, they voted for PDP in the hope that a change of administration will work for their good. In primary elections, DPT won 7 seats but in the general election, it drew a blank.

The Sharchop factor is always there. From eastern Bhutan, PDP won 6 seats from six districts after it pledged to provide special economic package to the eastern region to bring economic development in par with western region. The eastern region has been mostly neglected in history by the Thimphu administration. The former King only initiated development activities post the 1990s southern problem. The five years of DPT administration didn’t bring any radical economic development in the east, in spite of being the region blessed with rich natural mineral resources. The PDP pledge to build three colleges in the east and give ministerial berth to each six dzongkhags, besides special economic packages, did the trick for the people to give PDP the opportunity.

The external issue particular India’s friendship with Bhutan was much discussed in the campaign trail. The Indian government’s withdrawal of fuel subsidies was construed to send the message clear to the Bhutanese electorate who to vote for. One can never be sure of it. However, one thing is certain that it would be greatest setback to Bhutanese democracy if discussions on foreign policy and Bhutan India friendship are made sacrosanct in future elections.


Dr. Pema Gyamtsho is opposition leaders

The former agriculture and forest Minister, Dr Pema Gyamtsho, has been chosen as the Opposition Leader (OL) by Druk Phuentsum Tshogpa on July 24. He represents the Chhoekhor-Tang constituency of Bumthang.

DPT had promised to be formidable opposition party at the same time contributing for the peace and prosperity of the country.

The DPT move to appoint Dr. Pema Gyamtsho is seen as leadership grooming and preparing for the next General election in 2018. The most of senior leaders like Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuck, Zangley Drukpa   and Yeshi Zinpa won’t be taking part in the 2018 general election as they would have crossed the Constitutionally eligible age of 65.

DNC and BNDP submits Memorandum to Indian Foreign Minister

Druk National Congress (DNC) and Bhutan National Democratic Party (BNDP) jointly submitted a memorandum to the visiting Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid in Kathmandu on 9th July. The memorandum signed by Kesang Lhendup (President of DNC) and Dr D.N.S Dhakal (Acting President of BNDP) expressed concern about the media hype about the deteriorating bilateral relations between Bhutan and India, and believes that such development is not in the interest of the Bhutanese and the Indian peoples. Both DNC and BNDP lay especial emphasis in strengthening of Bhutan-India relations and as responsible political parties, they appeal to the Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid that any policy measures adopted by the governments of Bhutan and India should be in the long term interest of the common people.

They appealed that India maintain the existing arrangement and continue providing subsidy to Bhutan on essential commodities as it has been doing since the day Bhutan embarked upon its development plans, and examine the future relations with Bhutan in the overall interest of two peoples. Furthermore, the parties appealed that the Government of India take up with Bhutan, the repatriation of Bhutanese refugees with honor and dignity, and the integration of the exiled political parties in Bhutan’s democratic polity.

NDFB asked Bhutan to account their missing leaders

The National Democratic Front of Boroland (I.K.Songbijit) on 16 July urged the Bhutan government to disclose the whereabouts of the outfit's leaders who went missing after "Operation All Clear" in 2003.

BR Ferengga, NDFB (S) spokesman, appealed to the Bhutanese government  to tell the truth about the missing NDFB leaders during the operation on December 15, 2003,which was launched by the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) to flush out Indian insurgent groups from their territory in 2003. Many insurgents belonging to NDFB and ULFA were killed in the operation.  There are three faction of NDFB. The NDFB-PTF is holding peace talks with Government of India while other two, NDFB-RD and NDFB-IKS are active in their political activities.

JYT resigns

The former prime minister and Druk Phuensum Tshogpa president, Jigmi Y Thinley has submitted his resignation from the member of National Assembly on the grounds of giving young people an opportunity.
The National Assembly Act lays down four reasons' resignation, death, disqualification or removal, or expiration of term of office's for an elected member's seat to be considered vacant.
Apart from that, a member's seat would also be declared vacant if he or she remains absent for more than one-fourth of the number of days in the session without the assembly's permission.
The election of a member to fill the vacancy, election Act states would be held within 90 days from the date of the vacancy's occurrence.

India cuts Four Subsidy

The Government of India on July 1st had withdrawn four subsidies, on LPG, kerosene oil, Chukha power tariff and the excise duty refund.
The average cost of a cylinder of gas went up from Nu. 489 to Nu 1156. The cost of Kerosene oil from NU 15 to Nu 55. Bhutan lost INR of 910 million annually from Chukha power tariff subsidy withdrawal and loss of INR 3 billion from the withdrawal of subsidy on excise duty refund. Theses withdrawals have had a huge impact on Bhutan balance of payment. And the withdrawal had come on the election campaign.

The DPT leadership suspended their campaign and rushed to Thimphu when India withdrew the subsidies. In the campaign trail, the PDP leadership implied that the Indo-Bhutan Friendship had become strained under the leadership of Jigme Y. Thinley, and the withdraw is resultant of then Prime Minister Jigme Thinley meeting Premier Wen Jiabao of China in Rio de Janeiro in 2012. The DPT acting President, Lyonpo Yeshi Zinpa threatened to pull out of General election if PDP continued their incessant campaign that India doesn’t favour DPT government.

Bhutan is India's protectorate: Chinese

The Chinese experts, Liu Zongyi on Global Times, say that India sees Bhutan as little more than potential protectorate. He stated, “In the 21st century when concepts like "protectorates" and "client states" are outdated, the India-Bhutan relationship seems to be rather unique”. He had written the opinion on the recent General election and cites the example of withdrawal of subsidiary. He alleged the new ambassador to Bhutan V.P. Haran had practiced a "carrot-and-stick" policy, affecting the result of General election.

He writes Bhutan's leadership was worried about abnormal Indo-Bhutan relationship, and was afraid that Bhutan would be annexed by India someday. This fear perception from India prompted King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 2005 to announce that he would drop the ruling element of the monarchy and instituted democratic  elections in 2008 to distribute sovereignty.
He surmised, the outcome of recent general elections meant the Bhutan’s royal family and political elites had failed their policy in maintain the sovereignty through democracy and termed it “tragedy for Thimphu”.

New PM doesn't want to promote GNH

The New Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, has already signaled that he will step back from promoting GNH, both as a measure of success in his own country and as an object of international diplomacy. He says, “I believe it's not the job of the government to do that".
He wants to concentrate his efforts at home tackling the ballooning debt, the big rupee shortage, unemployment and the perception of growing corruption.
On the other hand, the new Prime Minister remarked that the King should lead efforts to popularise GNH around the world and not the elected head of the government.
"We have experts, the foremost of whom is our King," Tobgay said. "I would like for real experts to take centre-stage, leading the discourse at home and abroad. I think the Bhutanese people will be thrilled if His Majesty champions the cause".
The former Prime Minister Jigme Y Thinley who was global ambassador of Gross National Happiness would lose this status as well. Some people believed the fifth King had ‘intervened’ in electoral politics to wrest the Gross National Happiness project from Lyonpo Jigme Y Thinley. It won’t be surprising hereafter to see the fifth King taking numerous trips abroad to deliver GNH lectures.

India restores subsidized gas supply to Bhutan from August 1
India restored the supply of subsidized gas to Bhutan from August 1, a month after it was halted. The Government of India in fact had restored all subsidies to Bhutan.

India’s Foreign Secretary and National Security Advisors called on New PM

The Indian National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon called on the Prime Minister, Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay on August 9. The Prime Minister and the National Security Advisor discussed about  Government of India’ commitment to 11th Five Year Plan financial assistance and the Economic Stimulus Plan (ESP).
Bhutanese PM had presented the draft of the 11th FYP and the Economic Stimulus Plan (ESP).

“We’ll do everything we can to support and provide assistance to Bhutan. We really look forward to working together and achieving positive outcomes.” Mr. Menon said.

Mr. Menon assured the Bhutanese Prime Minister that GoI will support, assist and work together with Bhutan in a coordinated way.
Shivshankar Menon was accompanied by the Indian Foreign Secretary, Sujatha Singh, and the Indian Ambassador to Bhutan, V.P. Haran. The delegation had an audience with the fifth King Jigme Khesar Namgayl Wangchuck.

DPT’s 15-point submission to King

The Druk Phuentsum Tshogpa ( DPT), submitted 15 points to King on July 19, which was drawn after five hour meetings among  with DPT supporters at Thimphu.
Of the 15 issues, the main issues were the politicization, or involvement of officials within His Majesty’s secretariat and the timing of their granting of kidus, in terms of census and land to people, PDP’s pledges to give people census, land and luring armed forces.

The actions of the interim government’s advisor Dasho Karma Ura, the fifth King’s favorite advisor, is also in the list.

“Dasho Karma Ura violated a constitutional provisions and it’s up to His Majesty to mete out what action he may deem fit,” Jigme Y Thinley.

The DPT action of submitting petition to the King violates the Constitution of Bhutan. The Election Act has a provision where 10 days period is kept to resolve any election dispute which can be heard in the High Court. The DPT felt that Election of Commission was the object of one of their grievances and deemed the procedure “inappropriate”, had had thus bypassed the letters of the Election Act. 

King had assured DPT that the matter would be looked into. So far, no concrete action has been seen of the assurance.

DNC celebrated 19th Founding Day

The members of Druk National Congress celebrated its 19th Foundation day at Kathmandu on 16 June. Traditional Bhutanese Game, ‘Khuru’ was played among members to mark the occasion.  The party was founded on 16th June, 1994 by Late Mr. Rongthong Kunley Dorji with the support of Bhutanese inside the country and exile.

Kesang Lhendup, President of the party reminded the members and friends present during the celebration programme, that democracy has arrived in Bhutan with the efforts and sacrifice of Bhutanese people and exile political forces but the genuine form of democracy is still denied to Bhutanese. He expressed his expectation that the new government after the July General Election would show more courage and resolve in consolidating the democratic gains thus far and initiate the negotiation with dissident forces in exile.  

The Party on its founding Day occasion demanded the government to release all political prisoners unconditionally.