As the nation prepares to go to the polls on April 23 to elect the next batch of National Council members, we are hearing interesting developments from the villages. Gewog zomdus have thrown up some surprises, at least for the educated lot. At least one former member has lost to a new comer and one new comer has been turned down. While the urban and more educated population often tends to expect results of an election their way, the people at the grassroots, who constitute the bulk of voters, know what they are doing. They know who will serve them best because they understand their needs best. The more educated people living in the towns with little or no knowledge of hardships in the villages should not get patronising about what the people decide to vote for and for whom.
And as the election nears and the people warm up to the campaigns, things will become more interesting. Things might become a little politicised in some quarters, but the average Bhutanese knows where her vote is going. This was amply demonstrated in the 2008 elections. Money and empty promises and rhetoric cannot buy votes. For the villagers, it’s their time to speak out loudly. And they know that. Some of us should be prepared to be challenged.
On average, there are more aspiring candidates for this year’s NC election than in the last election. However, many dzongkhags still lack choice in terms of number of candidates and candidates themselves. Contrary to what the average Bhutanese thinks, it’s not the number alone that provides choice to the people. A dzongkhag, for example, may have 10 candidates and still lack choice. Real choice lies in good candidates standing neck and neck, not too many candidates who only add confusion among people.
Now, are there enough good candidates? While there can only be a relative answer to this question, generally, the average profile of the candidates leaves more to be desired. Here, we are talking about people who have commitment to service coupled with competence. However, we welcome young candidates who aspire to reconnect with the people. We trust that our people will make the right choice and help themselves.