Politics is happening here, politics with all its connotations. Some say it’s becoming dirtier by the day as the four political parties campaign for the crucial primary election. The air is charged with rumours and speculations about the parties and candidates. Rumours are often fueled by inadequate analysis and understanding of the parties’ ideologies and manifestoes. In a small society, the danger is that rumours can drown healthy discourse and impede unbiased understanding of parties and individuals. Hence, informed views must prevail.
The political parties and campaigning individuals are, in the meanwhile, becoming a little too touchy about many issues, including ideological and policy issues and criticisms. This may be the beginning of many rumours ricocheting around the country. This is dangerous because party workers can use rumours to mislead the voters. Some people suspect that party workers might be planting rumours against one another.
Some parties and individuals think that public debates and common forums are turning unreasonably critical and insidious. One party has said common forums are causing conflicts and turning the voters off. It’s more a matter of some individuals being too sensitive to criticisms, rather than forums brewing conflicts. We have observed that our political candidates are reasonably Bhutanese in the way they speak and conduct themselves in public. We need to learn to be more open to criticisms from tough opponents.
We need to put things in perspective. We are watching four political parties competing for power, and we cannot expect them to agree with one another. Criticism is natural and healthy as long as the candidates do not throw expletives at one another. For the public, exchange of criticisms among the parties and candidates should help form or sharpen judgment. It would be naïve of us to expect political debates to be like diplomatic conferences and development meetings that we are used to seeing.
However, we expect our political parties and candidates to exercise restraint by not becoming derogatory or defamatory and not discussing issues that are beyond the mandate of a political government. Having said that, we do not want parties, institutions, and individuals to nitpick. The broader picture is healthy. Let’s move on.