Dust is slowly settling after the general election last week. It’s not been easy for some people to come to terms with the defeat of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa for various reasons. In some parts of the party, copious tears are flowing for the vanquished. Postal ballots played a big part in the election, and many believe that all the ballots were not ticked by voters themselves. There are stories of some people finding their votes already cast by post without their knowledge when they went to the polls. Whichever party is innocent, all doesn’t seem to have gone right if talks that are refusing to go away are anything to go by.
The general election has definitely left behind an important lesson for the nation and authorities concerned, particularly the Election Commission of Bhutan. Making postal ballot facilities available for different sections of population not directly involved in elections or in providing essential public services is not a good idea. It can be susceptible to forced voting. Therefore, it makes sense to curb postal voting as much as possible.
Meanwhile, it’s important to reflect on the discussions during the run-up to the election. What lessons can we take home? In the frantic attempt to win the election, the two political parties and their candidates threw against one another a volley of allegations and accusations at the expense of Bhutanese nationhood. The parties and candidates tried to pull each other down using issues and cases on which we should stand together as a nation. For the people, it was painful to see the politicians pulling at one another’s loose ends and expose our common weaknesses.
We need to move on with lessons learnt from the elections. And as we move on, it’s important to remind ourselves that self-reliance is more important than our relations with the neighbours. If short-term benefits to our people are important, long-term interests of the nation are crucial. Nothing should deter us from self-determination. Even as we try to be less dependent on others, we must set our eyes on growing opportunities around us. We should not rest until we achieve self-reliance and self-determination. We call upon the new government to lead us in this mission.