Unfinished business of democracy

Published on Mar 24 2010 // Main News

March 24, 2010: On March 23, the government moth piece wrote in its editorial that ‘we have unfinished business as far as democracy in Bhutan in concerned’. It’s might have been a pinching issue for Bhutan government had it been said by exiled citizens. But, the fact is coming out from within that Bhutanese democracy is incomplete. Lack of local government is just an instance that journalists in Thimphu finally realized.

The DPT-government had, soon after taking oath, vowed to hold elections of the local bodies within 2008. It has almost been two years, no progress has so far been made. Under the direct order from King Jigme Khesar, the government was compelled to extend the tenure of former DYT and GYT members for indefinite period.

The parliament has not been able to pass the Local Government Act and latest amendment regarding the authorities of municipalities, village and sub-urban cities has added complexities. The Election Commission has commented, many provisions in the proposed LG Act are contradictory to each other.

The 99 out of 205 block headmen, Gups, who have gathered in capital city discussed their role and responsibility in development activities, remaining above party politics. According to constitution, the DYT and GYT members are not entitled to join politics.

In a recent meeting with Chief District Officers in Thimphu, Prime Minister JIgmi Thinely had ordered to include party leaders at the district level in development activities, which raised eyebrows of many questioning what DYT and GYT do should party leaders be involved in development projects.

The other concern that Gups raise was the use of Constituency Development Grant (CDG) which largely remains unused so far. The Gups said the distribution is unfair, not that they said illegal. To them, the CDG must be according to the size and population of the district.

Most districts in south and east are large and those in northwest are small.

The other visible issue marring Gups is their position in changed political structure. They said, their workload has increased, respect from the people has diminished and they are struggling to understand and draw a line between politics and local governance.

The reasons are obvious. People have begun approaching party coordinators and parliamentarians directly in hope to draw faster attention from the government and the Gups largely remain ignored.