The discussion on Bhutan Elections 2013 opened with D Suba Chandran’s welcome note and was followed by Ms. Medha Bisht’s initial remarks. Ms. Medha Bisht encapsulated the election procedure whereby deciphering between the primary and final rounds of elections. She, then, provided a statistical breakdown on the votes bagged by each party in terms of percentage and number.
Ms. Bisht also elucidated the five core factors as to why the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) lost to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). First, the people of Bhutan wanted a path breaking change in terms of developmental growth in Bhutan that the DPT failed to offer. Second, 8 Druk Nymrub Tshogpa (DNT) members re-aligned with the PDP in the final round that provided a clear victory for the PDP. Third, Anti-incumbency was associated with the DPT in terms of favouritism and nepotism. Fourth, the land bill issue created friction between the people of Bhutan and the DPT members. The DPT continued to grant huge tracts of land to the King and this was seen unfavourable by the masses. Fifth, the rupee crunch was another contributing factor as to why the DPT lost the elections. Many of the DPT’s policies were being faulted by laying excessive emphasis on imports, capital expenditure, outsourcing of projects, etc.
On the issue of subsidy withdrawal from Bhutan, Ms. Bisht didn’t see why New Delhi was being entirely blamed. She asserted that the withdrawal decision could not have taken place without the consultation or approval of the King. Therefore, instead of seeing the issue as ill-timed, she sought the issue as ‘very well-timed’.
Ms. Bisht also highlighted how she sensed that the China - Bhutan policy initiatives over the disputed border area were almost settled. She reiterated that “If New Delhi has intentionally withdrawn subsidy from Bhutan, in order, to express its economic plight because of China, then there are serious undercurrents between the Bhutan-China border relations.”