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Ensuring promises sync with Plan

With the 11th Plan out ahead, candidates will be doing more explaining than pledging
Campaign Trail Next time around, when political party candidates go around campaigning, there will be a guide for them to word their promises carefully.

Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) officials, in an earlier interview, said the draft 11 five-year plan would be ready before candidates headed out for election campaigns.

“Our preparation of the plan is very much tied to the calendar of election commission, so that we can share it with everyone, whoever is interested, before they go out to campaign,” commission’s local development division’s chief planning officer, Pasang Dorji, said.

He said this was to ensure the promises the parties and candidates made “could be in consonance” with the draft plan, which was at an advanced stage.

The idea was to “double endorse” the plan.

“By communicating with people about what is there in the plan, they’ll be helping the commission thoroughly discuss and make sure that true and top priorities of people are articulated and incorporated in the draft plan,” he said.

But this was also to ensure no parallel planning happened, be it through aspiring parliamentarians, local government officials or mainstream planning.

“But as long as we thoroughly discuss with people at grassroots, irrespective of who comes, their priorities will be the same,” Pasang Dorji said.

He claims this was exactly what happened for the first parliamentary elections where, although they did not share the draft 10 plan with the parties “officially”, the priorities emerged almost same.

Political parties had, however, managed to base most of their promises on the draft plan, which already existed then.  However, a number of campaign pledges were also made that did not fit in with the plan.

On the commission’s part, they collected and compiled those pledges, and along with the draft plan, sent it back to the local government, asking them to re-prioritise before they finalised the FYP.

Over the years, some serving parliamentarians had said it was a challenge to implement pledges that were outside the plan, while a few mentioned a need for an arrangement to keep some provision for elected members to implement such pledges.

This was also happening against the backdrop of many questioning whether it was at all the parliamentarians’ job to make such promises.  Others said, rather than going specific, candidates should largely campaign on policy and legislative issues.

But some politicians have also said it was only through local, specific pledges that most voters in rural areas could relate to the parties and render support.

An observer said this meant that, if parties at all needed to make pledges, it would be wise to stick to what existed in the plan.

“That way, voters won’t be given false hopes and they, if elected, needn’t go knocking doors to have their pledges fulfilled,” one said.

But knowing that there was already a formal channel to formulate and implement the plan, can the candidates take credit for its success?

“It should go to the government of the day, since they are the political master, and for implementing whatever is there in the plan without any political biasness as per the law of the land,” Pasang Dorji said.

By Kesang Dema

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