Representatives from political parties in a panel discussion organized by the Bhutan Democracy Dialogue in Thimphu almost over a month ago smugly vowed to refrain from corrupt practices and mudslinging to achieve their political goal.
They also agreed to conduct themselves more responsibly during and after the election period.
However, this is becoming easier said than done going by the conduct of political parties. The government and the opposition have lately been engaged in a political imbroglio of sorts with exchanges of corruption allegations and mudslinging. It is as if both the political parties are vehement on pulling the other down.
On one side, we have the government asking ACC probe in the fiscal incentive case that the opposition as the ruling party then had granted in 2013, thus benefitting Le Meridien alone by more than Nu 76mn that is owned (partnered) by the daughter of former works and human settlement minister Yeshey Zimba.
The opposition out rightly declined the allegation, describing it as malicious political vendetta and a political stunt; asking the timing too of such allegation and calling it as a bad precedent by the government.
Nonetheless, if a bad precedent has been set by the government, so has the opposition. The opposition doesn’t seem to be doing anything different too. If the opposition asking questions on the timing of allegation made by the government is befitting, it’s only apt that questions must be raised on the timing of the allegations on the misuse of public resource by the Prime Minister made by the opposition.
Similarly, there are questions as to why the opposition waited for three years to come out with the allegation on the alleged misuse of around Nu 3mn by the Prime Minister to construct security system at his private residence. Though it described it as a serious form of corruption and that it needs to be investigated, why didn’t the opposition raise the issue from the beginning itself? And that goes without saying for most of the other allegations on corrupt practices as alleged by the opposition.
Delving back into the main issue, the conduct of political parties, responsibly and sensibly, perhaps doesn’t matter much when winning become an overriding goal! Victory must be secured by hook or crook. For now, it only portends that it is not possible for parties to maintain such high standards of camaraderie and respect for each other during the elections. So how do we go about? Should we decry political parties playing dirty?
On and at many occasions, we pompously brag about democracy in Bhutan. We describe it as an exemplary one – from a sacred gift from the Throne to one that is bestowed upon people without the latter asking for it. As a democracy that is exemplary, we need to strive towards a political culture that is exemplary too. And this to a large extent depends on the conduct of our political parties. We need to practice what we preach.