Flower Power, Postal Bal­lots (And a Pri­mary Dis­sec­tion)

Business Bhutan - - Opi Inion - JURMI CHHOWING

Pol­i­tics is bad for po­etry. When you think about it, it’s not only po­etry. It’s bad for ev­ery­thing un­der the sun, the moon and the stars. As bad for ele­phants as it is for ants, whales, snails, trees and trouts.

Now things ap­pear free un­til it’s time to pay. Then you set­tle the dues. Like the rent is free till the end of the month. And then the land­lord comes calling. Like the lunch is served un­til the counter tolls. And death is the fi­nal pay­ment for a life­time of bor­rowed ticks. It doesn’t mat­ter how we use up the free­bies be­cause when it’s time to pay it’s pay time. It’s like what my Brazil­ian friend Marco wrote: “Some­times things must change so they re­main the same. That’s why I al­ways give my coun­try­men this ad­vice: af­ter vot­ing, please flush the toi­let”.

It’s time for the fi­nal flush. In the pri­maries, the PDP paid dearly (the BKP too). And the DNT and the DPT were given an ex­tended time to bal­ance the dues. By 2023, they’ll ei­ther pay or get an­other ex­ten­sion. But there is no es­cap­ing the pay­ment.

In vic­tory, bar­ring mega­lo­ma­ni­acs, gra­cious­ness is a given. But in de­feat, ci­vil­ity is rare and in that paucity, I ap­plaud the pres­i­dent of the PDP for set­ting an ex­am­ple of bi­par­ti­san­ship. And for the BKP too - whose pres­i­dent’s con­stituents will prob­a­bly re­gret their vote. This is not to im­ply that the pres­i­dents of the win­ning par­ties were con­ceited. Far from it; they ap­peared hum­bled and were civil in their ac­cep­tance of the man­date. Hope­fully, this hon­ourable con­ces­sion will con­tinue on Oc­to­ber 18th with the same spirit of re­spect, ac­knowl­edge­ment and na­tional unity.

On that note, there’s been talk of horse-trad­ing. I’m glad the DNT have stuck to their cho­sen 47. Talks of horse-trad­ing be­tween the DPT and their old ri­vals the PDP have proven to be just talk – a harm­less ru­mour that spares us of more talks of power mon­ger­ing. Ev­ery so of­ten, you’d like par­ties to stick to their guns and by avoid­ing the temp­ta­tion to ex­change bul­lets, the DNT and the DPT have won a fair bit of moral mileage along with the PDP.

And now, some ac­count­ing: how did the in­cum­bent party pay? And what do the east­ern in­hab­i­tants know that the rest of the coun­try isn’t privy to? The elec­toral map presents a clear de­mo­graphic – the east­ern parts are a DPT strong­hold and with nom­i­nal ex­cep­tions the re­gion went DPT. This in­di­cates a con­tin­u­ing faith in the DPT ris­ing above the 2013 di­vide that made the party’s loy­al­ties ques­tion­able. For me – un­til proven con­trary – they still stand ques­tion­able be­cause the hal­lowed reigns of the kings can never be ques­tioned and (should they win) the com­ing five years will demon­strate the re­demp­tion or the lack. If they were to so­lid­ify the sovereignty and one­ness of the King, Coun­try and Peo­ple - I’ll take a bow of ac­knowl­edge­ment. Un­til then, it’s wait and watch.

The EVMs were for the PDP - mean­ing the ru­ral folk voted PDP. The ur­ban­ites did a Bru­tus on the in­cum­bents. At least the PDP now know who held the knife and per­haps pon­der the rea­sons and woo them ac­cord­ingly in 2023. Un­til then, be­stowed with the vote and faith of some 80,000 of their coun­try­men, the PDP can watch and act from the side­lines; be­com­ing the de facto party of the peo­ple - us­ing their in­for­mal state to ef­fec­tively be­come a watch­dog for the masses.

The same lit­er­ate lot also went on to nar­row the gap by ap­prov­ing the stratagems of the DNT – the big­gest win­ners in the pri­maries. And the ed­u­cated group also for­gave the trans­gres­sions of the DPT. Whether that faith is well placed is ques­tion­able. I choose the king above a politi­cian for the sim­ple rea­son that the king looks ahead and a politi­cian looks be­hind. Be­cause the king doesn’t need land, man­sions, Pra­dos, juicy con­tracts, the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of wealth and all the rest of that rot. A king’s only con­cern is fore­sight. A politi­cian is limited by his term.

The BKP suf­fered on all grounds and maybe a more po­lit­i­cal ap­proach would have helped the new­est en­trant who went into the game pledg­ing zero tol­er­ance to­wards cor­rup­tion (a fright­en­ing prospect should such a party gov­ern and hold the cor­rupt ac­count­able). But if they can keep up the walk and talk - by 2023 - the winds of favour might blow their way. It was dis­heart­en­ing to see them fall short of the 10% state fund­ing by a whisker and to see their pres­i­dent lose her own con­stituency. Hope­fully, that won’t be­come a de­ter­rent be­cause Bhutan needs a party like the BKP to play the vi­tal role of keep­ing the estab­lished ones on their twin­kling toes.

And now the DNT. It’s re­as­sur­ing to see a new party make such an in­deli­ble come­back af­ter the dis­ap­point­ments of 2013. In rec­og­niz­ing and ap­point­ing Dr. Lo­tay, the DNT scored a clutch-shot. Here’s an estab­lished man of medicine with a proven track record of treat­ing the ail­ments of the peo­ple. And a pow­er­ful or­a­tor to boot - who does not waste time thank­ing the podium, the mi­cro­phone, the venue, the weather or even the stetho­scope. He gets straight to the point with­out beat­ing around the bush of niceties that has been the bane of the de­bates. He was also the only speaker to use that bandied-about word of ‘Gokab’ to say what it re­ally meant to him and his party: ‘Give us the op­por­tu­nity to serve you. Take a chance with us. Put the bur­den on our backs and we’ll show you whether we are wor­thy or not’. And that was a re­fresh­ing ap­proach by the good doc­tor. Where many were un­der the im­pres­sion that per­haps Dr. Lo­tay was a tad too ag­gres­sive, I found him ur­gent – like a man in a hurry who senses the nick and lack of time and can’t wait to get things go­ing.

I’m slow; like a sloth. But I’m aware of the power of speed, es­pe­cially if it’s guided by peo­ple who have de­clared the com­mon good their sole in­ter­est for gover­nance. If Dr. Lo­tay and his merry band of flow­er­pow­ered pro­gres­sives can keep up the sight, sound and the fury - who knows what the next five years will bring? It just might her­ald the revo­lu­tion Bhutan needs.

As for the pledges, my life is not go­ing to be af­fected one iota - ex­cept for the Free Wi-Fi. And here again, the con­nec­tiv­ity hangs on the way the Postal Bal­lots are cast.

Jurmi Chhowing is a writer and the founder of Yal­lamma! The Writ­ing Com­pany. He can be emailed at iamdrukpa@gmail.com

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