Tuesday, June 28, 2011
The grassroots came marching yesterday. The streets wore that deserted reminiscent of an empty savannah when the animals take off on their annual rounds of migration to better pastures. It was a good wake up call, literally, in that I had left the TV on with the BBS channel. And there he was – bright and early, going live to the country and keeping people of the four regions connected through their extensive coverage of all the districts and the polling stations. Hats off to the BBS for a day of uninterrupted broadcast that kept people informed of the election proceedings.
Hats are off to the Election Commission of Bhutan for conducting what was a flawless display of mass orchestra choreographed to perfection.
The LG elections now close the first democratic round up of the balloting booth awarded to the Bhutanese by the throne in 2008. We have managed to come full circle, and keeping in mind that this was elections regarding Local Government, the sense of pride and accomplishment was something to cherish. The ECB conducted another election but with some major worthwhile notes: the very nature of the elections being apolitical and as grassroots as the fields can get was one, and the manner in which it was demonstrated proves that the political scenario too can be managed without mixing the cash and the politics.
The argument for State Funding can take a leaf out of yesterday’s LG elections, namely the primal fact that elections need not be fuelled with cash, and people will always vote keeping their personal relationships vis a vis the candidates. We are still a society of personal interactions and that counts above everything else.
The other factor that will most probably and prominently surface will now be the case of the CDG.
My queries are simple and straight forward. First up, I’d like to know what does being a Gup, Mangmi or a Tshogpa actually mean on the ground? There is an uncomfortable pebble in that apolitical shoe of the LG representatives and that is the Constituency Grant Development. How are apolitical representatives going to merge, mix or negotiate with MPs who hold the funds for local governance? Is there going to be some kind of clear boundaries set up with specific terms of reference? Or is that very boundary going to become the stumbling wall of resistance from political MPs, who, by the very nature of their roles, clashes and conflicts with those of the apolitical representatives.
This is going to be the bottleneck once the dust settles and apolitical representatives find themselves elected to an office minus the funds for local governance. Are MPs going to work in tandem with apolitical representatives? Will there be a sense of the greater apolitical good or will the CDG fund become the very bone of contention between the people’s representatives to parliament and those elected yesterday to run the 2005 Gewogs, and more than the thousand Chiwogs?
Who will call the shots? Will there be negotiations? Will there be compromises? Or will the common man that walked, ran and drove to the polls find themselves marginalized by both politics and a-politics?
The questions must be asked, for the journey to finish the first democratic process in Bhutan has finally concluded. There will be revelations aplenty, along with trials and tribulations, but one factor must be borne in mind at all times: the voter turnout and the fundamental duty of both the politician and the serving non-politician to do what they were elected to do best: serve the people, above all else, and above everything. This was a vision envisaged by the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and now we have His Majesty the King at the helm of altruistic service demonstrating by example the need to serve your country better than to serve yourselves.
It’s time to serve the people, for they made the transition complete, and now they must be remembered, and not forgotten, as was the case in the last three years. It’s also a good time to reflect on State Funding and the CDG – this is the junction where the flesh meets the bone and twain shall hide, seek and tell. As much as we need far sighted politicians, we must nurture and uphold the offices of the working man’s representatives – the non-politicians. This is the best check and balance system we can ever have and that must be the way it was meant to be, as envisaged and enshrined in the constitution.