Although it was supposed to be a debate on party ideologies, no distinct ideologies could be identified from the public debate among the party presidents on Wednesday. It’s either because the parties do not have political ideologies distinctly different from one another or the presidents could not express themselves succinctly enough. The former seems to be the case because, even as they tried to express themselves differently, everyone slipped back into the same GNH concept of development. It’s understandable because GNH is the grand idea that any leader cannot think without.
Many Bhutanese thought the debate did not give much to take home. It was partly because the party presidents agreed on many national priorities like employment, poverty alleviation, and decentralisation although all of them sought to approach these priorities differently. Some viewers thought the debate did not give much food for thought merely because it was not confrontational and sensational. Some had expected to see much more disagreements played out in a much more sensational manner.
Although the debate was organised and conducted in the Bhutanese style, which has a lot of merit, there were a lot of exchanges that went beyond literal meaning and understanding. The repeated – but not provocative enough – reference by the presidents of the new parties to the need for humble people to take reins of the power hit home. But the DPT president easily brushed them aside, and the audience hardly noticed it.
While the DPT president presented himself and his points matter-of-factly, the three other presidents presented themselves as humble people leading potential leaders from humble backgrounds. And because of this agenda, they spent considerable time talking about themselves. Some viewers found this unnecessary and said it personalised the debate. DNT president’s repeated reminder not to “put governance in the hands of the rich and powerful” seemed to be directed at DPT, but it did not have the desired impact for lack of response from the DPT president.
By and large, the debate shed a lot of light on the parties we are about to vote for. But as always, if we are not informed enough, a lot of finer points with carefully employed nuances could go unnoticed or unappreciated. We need more commentaries on the debate, simplified for general understanding.