Ob­servers ap­plaud PDP’s can­di­date-re­place­ment tac­tic

Business Bhutan - - Front Page - Chen­cho Dema

Will the group of new can­di­dates en­sure a sim­i­lar feat for the Peo­ple’s Demo­cratic Party (PDP) in the up­com­ing elec­tions?

This is per­haps the ques­tion do­ing the rounds as the PDP re­placed 12 Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment with new can­di­dates for the 2018 elec­tions. Two of its MPs - MP Mingbo Dukpa and Speaker Jigme Zangpo will, mean­while, not con­test be­cause of the age fac­tor.

The Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of the party, Sonam Jatso said a ma­jor­ity of the serv­ing MPs, who are step­ping down, is an in­te­gral part of the PDP fam­ily.

“There have been a few iso­lated cases where one or two of them were not happy with the party’s de­ci­sion, but most of them are with the party and they con­tinue to sup­port. So, the ques­tion of

how it will back­fire is not even there. Our party is ab­so­lutely clear why such mea­sures had to be taken,” he added.

Ac­cord­ing to Sonam Jatso, some of their serv­ing MPs de­cided to vol­un­tar­ily step down and they had to look for re­place­ment can­di­dates to fill the va­cant po­si­tions. A few serv­ing MPs were re­placed based on the rec­om­men­da­tions made by party co­or­di­na­tors, mem­bers and sup­port­ers in the con­stituency.

“All our MPs in­clud­ing the prime min­is­ter and min­is­ters are as­sessed based on their per­for­mance both by their re­spec­tive con­stituents and the party. Based on this per­for­mance as­sess­ment and rec­om­men­da­tions for re­place­ment re­ceived from re­spec­tive con­stituen­cies, the party’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee had ex­ten­sive de­lib­er­a­tions be­fore ar­riv­ing at the de­ci­sion to re­place some of our serv­ing MPs,” Sonam Jatso said.

Mean­while, cer­tain peo­ple who have been fol­low­ing pol­i­tics closely say re­plac­ing serv­ing MPs is good if it en­sures bet­ter elec­tion re­sult.

Wangcha San­gay, an ac­tive blog­ger said, “It‘s dif­fi­cult for me as an out­sider to de­ter­mine whether it is a good move or not. But po­lit­i­cal par­ties do change can­di­dates and mainly to en­sure bet­ter elec­tion results. So frankly, it would be crazy for a po­lit­i­cal party to change a bank­able sit­ting MP. Thus re­place­ments would be only for those whose chances of re- elec­tion are in doubt or very slim”.

He added that even then re­plac­ing sit­ting MPs would have some reper­cus­sions due to hurt sen­ti­ments, but such have to be dealt with by the party.

An in­de­pen­dent free­lance jour­nal­ist cur­rently pur­su­ing her Masters in Aus­tralia, Tara Limbu, said the PDP field­ing new can­di­dates by re­plac­ing the older ones would not make as much dif­fer­ence to the party’s in­flu­ence as its lead­er­ship would.

“In the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal be­lief, ide­ol­ogy and can­di­dates hold the same de­gree of im­por­tance: ir­rel­e­vance. At least that is what the last two elec­tions have shown,” she added.

As the ul­ti­mate aim of any po­lit­i­cal party is to win con­fi­dence, get votes and be in power, a 32-year-old civil ser­vant thinks PDP re­plac­ing MPs is to get in line with other more promis­ing party and to re­main in power for yet an­other five years; to fur­ther to gain trust and con­fi­dence from the peo­ple which they could not build in five years as a rul­ing party and also to gain votes by putting in more ex­pe­ri­enced or renowned peo­ple in the party.

Rabi C Da­hal, a free­lance jour­nal­ist, said, “I think they have felt the an­ti­in­cum­bency fac­tor from the re­cent NC elec­tion and they are mak­ing wise de­ci­sion.”

Mean­while, a for­eign jour­nal­ist, who cov­ers Bhutan reg­u­larly, thinks that it’s good to re­place can­di­dates that have sat for two terms and that it’s nice to have a broader range of peo­ple try out their hands in pol­i­tics.

“It is good that the PDP is giv­ing an as­pi­ra­tion to peo­ple who are in­ter­ested to join. Once an MP al­ways an MP is not a good idea for democ­racy,” the jour­nal­ist added.

De­scrib­ing it as prob­a­bly a mis­cal­cu­lated move, Kunga Ten­zin Dorji, a me­dia and brand­ing spe­cial­ist, said it’s likely to have cre­ated dis­sat­is­fac­tion and rifts within the party.

“They could have waited till the dis­so­lu­tion of the govern­ment. But I am sure the PDP had its rea­sons and jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for mak­ing the an­nounce­ments now,” he added. How­ever, Sonam Jatso said the re­place­ment with new can­di­dates is the choice of lead­er­ship the party is of­fer­ing to the peo­ple of Bhutan in terms of qual­i­fi­ca­tion, ex­pe­ri­ence, and cred­i­bil­ity.

“As a po­lit­i­cal party com­mit­ted to strength­en­ing our democ­racy, it is our re­spon­si­bil­ity to field the most ca­pa­ble and promis­ing can­di­dates who will work for the in­ter­est of the con­stituents and the na­tion at large. What is more im­por­tant than win­ning an elec­tion is that peo­ple must have a pool of cred­i­ble lead­ers to choose from,” he added.

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