A strong ob­jec­tion from the Op­po­si­tion for the Ris­ing East

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - Sonam Pen­jor

The op­po­si­tion party has raised se­ri­ous ob­jec­tion on the govern­ment’s front to ini­ti­ate spe­cial at­ten­tion to the east­ern Dzongkhags to ac­cel­er­ate eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment cit­ing ra­tio­nal­is­tic, dis­crim­i­na­tory and di­vi­sive, and in di­rect vi­o­la­tion of the con­sti­tu­tion.

The ini­tia­tive called as Ris­ing East pro­gram was formed with com­pris­ing of four Cab­i­net Min­is­ters hail­ing from the East and an­nounced the es­tab­lish­ment of three col­leges in the East re­cently.

Ac­cord­ing to press re­lease from the op­po­si­tion, bal­anced re­gional de­vel­op­ment had been one of the cor­ner­stone de­vel­op­ment ob­jec­tives since the early reign of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.

The first elected Druk Phun­sum Tshogpa (DPT) govern­ment con­tin­ued this noble pol­icy un­der the de­vel­op­ment phi­los­o­phy of “growth with equity and jus­tice, tak­ing road, elec­tric­ity, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and other crit­i­cal ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties equitably to all the nooks and cor­ners of the coun­try.

There­fore, ac­cel­er­ated de­vel­op­ment in the East or for that mat­ter, in any re­gion or Dzongkhag can be car­ried out with­out such re­gional pro­pa­ganda.

The op­po­si­tion also made clear that there is no doubt that East­ern re­gion needs fo­cused at­ten­tion for ac­cel­er­ated eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment like other less de­vel­oped re­gions or dzongkhags, in­deed.

How­ever, the govern­ment’s ini­tia­tive has ex­plic­itly sen­sa­tion­al­ized re­gion­al­ism for elec­toral gains in the east, it stated.

The op­po­si­tion has also said that the peo­ple from other re­gions and dzongkhags have started ques­tion­ing on the ini­tia­tive ex­press­ing feel­ings of dis­crim­i­na­tion and in­equity ow­ing to this.

The ini­tia­tive has also left the op­po­si­tion party wor­ried, as there is ev­ery pos­si­bil­ity now that other re­gions and dzongkhags will also de­mand a sim­i­lar spe­cial treat­ment. This has be­come a mat­ter of se­ri­ous con­cern for the Op­po­si­tion Party and the na­tion as a whole.

“We be­lieve that min­is­ters rep­re­sent the na­tion and should work for fur­ther­ance of over­all na­tional in­ter­ests and agenda rather than as­sign­ing them­selves to rep­re­sent a cer­tain re­gional league,”

Ac­cord­ing to the op­po­si­tion, the ini­tia­tive di­rectly vi­o­lates ar­ti­cle 15(3) of the Con­sti­tu­tion that states: “Can­di­dates and political par­ties shall not re­sort to re­gion­al­ism, eth­nic­ity and re­li­gion to in­cite vot­ers for elec­toral gain. Fur­ther, it vi­o­lates the prin­ci­ples of state pol­icy, which re­quires the state to en­deavor to de­velop and ex­e­cute poli­cies to pro­mote eq­ui­table dis­tri­bu­tion of pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties among in­di­vid­u­als and peo­ple liv­ing in dif­fer­ent parts of the King­dom.

“This is an un­scrupu­lous political act and sets a dan­ger­ous prece­dent with a real po­ten­tial for de­mean­ing na­tional unity, har­mony and in­tegrity in the long run,” the op­po­si­tion stated. “We had raised this con­cern when we first heard of it dur­ing the elec­tion process in 2013 and later in the Na­tional As­sem­bly as well.”

“We urge the rul­ing party (PDP) to put the na­tional in­ter­ests above the party in­ter­ests and act re­spon­si­bly,” stated the op­po­si­tion.

Though the govern­ment had not yet said any­thing on the is­sue, of­fi­ci­at­ing Prime Min­is­ter Dam­cho Dorji told BT that the govern­ment would pro­vide its for­mal re­sponse lat­ter.

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