The presidents of Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party and Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa repeatedly emphasised during their meeting with the people of Trashiyangtse yesterday that Gross National Happiness (GNH) would be the parties’ focus, not consumerism.
Hinting at the party that has been promising things like excavators for every gewog and more helicopters, DNT’s president Lotay Tshering asked: “Where’re we heading with such strong focus on?” He said investment in social sectors like health, education, and agriculture had gradually dropped over the years.
At a separate press conference, Lotay Tshering said that the yardstick to measure progress was focused on Gross Domestic Product and not GNH. He said DNT had only doable plans for the wellbeing of the society.
“While the main priority is to improve health care services, not infrastructure, we will also transform education, create jobs, and promote tourism,” he said to at a gathering in Khamdang gewog.
He said that DNT was the first to conceive the idea of reintroducing central schools and the 100 unit free electricity for rural areas in 2013.
He said doing away with the cut off point for class X students does not go against the Constitution. “Those who have remained home after not qualifying to class XI would be allowed to continue,” he said.
The DNT president had more than 15 meetings in seven dzongkhags and 12 constituencies.
“We are going to change the health policy and ensure that there’re four specialists in the dzongkhag hospitals,” he said.
Central schools would be established mostly in the rural areas, and the party would prioritise children from rural or humble families, he said.
He added that non-government organisations and civil society organisations would be given bigger roles in the implementation of relevant programmes. “We could also have Red Cross Society and Tarayana-run hospitals, why not?”
Free internet, continuous drinking water, irrigation and improved roads were among others pledges.
Both the presidents said that what the previous governments began would not be undone.
“For instance, central schools are like choetens. We won’t dismantle them,” BKP’s president Neten Zangmo said at a gathering in Toedtsho gewog yesterday afternoon.
At the Kheni Lower Secondary School, she said: “We don’t promise you many things like others but a clean and a caring government.”
Bhutan still has the opportunity to set a unique example to defy the universal perception that politics is dirty, she said. “Some of my friends who were in politics before told me that without money taking part in elections without money is difficult, I don’t think so.”
She said that there were cases of divorce due to allegiance to different parties. “In Udzorong, families have split and politics have been divisive. We cannot divide the country.”
“Don’t sell the future of your children, it is never worth it,” she said.
She spoke briefly about the manifesto of her party. “Economic self-reliance is the primary goal of BKP, but with sustainability,” she said. “Let’s create enough opportunities here so that our youth do not have to go to Thimphu for jobs.”
She said Trashiyangtse was blessed with many sacred Nyes and tourism could create plenty of jobs. “There’s a lot we can do in agriculture in Yangtse like we did in Samdrupjongkhar.”
DNT president is in Mongar, and BKP president will hold meetings in Trashiyangtse and move to Mongar today.
Tshering Palden | Trashiyangtse