Another Contender for 2023

An active member of a new political party in the making says the party is almost ready for registration

The letter seeking registration by Druk Thuendrel Tshogpa (DTT) to the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) is not the end of new parties determined to contest in the next National Assembly (NA) elections in 2023. There is another one on the block, who are currently involved in selecting candidates, preparing the party’s logo and engaged in other works required for registration. According to one of the party’s active members, the party is almost ready for registration and is tentatively named Druk Gyalyong Tshogpa (DGT). 
“Many may think that this party is coming out of nowhere, but it is also one formed after extensive activities and studies all around the country,” he said, adding he can comfortably say that the real needs of the people will be reflected by the party. 
On questions concerning the party’s founders and office bearers like President, he said it will be revealed very soon. “I really do not know why people always ask about leaders and core members. Yes, they are important, but the party is more important than them,” he said. 
He further claimed that the party is having difficulties with candidates. “I do not mean lack of candidates, but getting the best ones. Like claimed by other parties, we also have a screening process and sometimes we come across two to three candidates from a constituency who are equally good,” he said. 
When asked about the party’s prospects in 2023, he said no political party knows their future now. “Can anyone say who will win in the first round of elections,” he questioned, underlining that both old and new parties have their limitations and challenges. “For us, it is getting more members and support. For the old parties, it is retaining their supporters, most of who are now fed up supporting the same party or candidate for 15 years,” he said. However, he said that the party will not go around telling people that it is time for change. “Our people are very smart. They understand and participating in three general elections, apart from the local government (LG) elections have made them wiser,” he said. 
Moreover, he said some candidates should voluntarily step aside. “Just because there is no limit on the terms that elected members can stand for elections, people should not take advantage. They say that the people wants them; but who would openly tell them that they should step aside and give opportunities to others,” he questioned.
On how the new party would be different from others, he said it begins from the party’s principles to candidates and others. “If we are given an opportunity by the people of Bhutan, we will make balanced regional development a reality. We will not differentiate supporters of other parties from ours, as all are Bhutanese. We will do immense work on gender parity in politics, which different governments have talked about but never did anything. We have worked immensely on Bhutan’s economy and have a road map to solve unemployment. Like mentioned earlier, we will be a reflection of Bhutan’s status today as a country and work towards solving various issues,” he said, adding that during campaigns there will be no mud-slinging. “We will present what we can do and let the people decide. It is disgusting to see political parties speaking more about the failures of their opponents than what their party can do,” he added. 
When asked about time and the elections just a year ahead, he said there is nothing much to worry as works in the grassroots began a long time back. “Almost everything is ready for registration, except selecting the best candidates from constituencies where we have more than one aspirant,” he said.
However, sources close to the party said the main founders are currently not in Bhutan and that they would be arriving in the country very soon. One is said to be in the US and the other in Australia.
Meanwhile, people are excited. “It is good to see that there are more parties, which means democracy is becoming stronger. Further, when there are more parties, people will have more choice. Every party will be alert,” a former gup said. According to him, in 2008, it was between Druk Phuensum Tshogpa and Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). “People had no choice. If there was a third party, those who did not want to support PDP and DPT would have voted for the third party. I think this is how Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) also won in 2018,” he said.
If Druk Gyalyong Tshogpa is established, fulfilling all requirements of the ECB, it would be the seventh political party of the country after DTT.