A strong objection from the Opposition for the Rising East
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.