A television reporter asked an old woman in eastern Bhutan about her feelings about candidates of different political parties swarming like bees in her village. Taken aback, lost for words, the woman replied, in a sing-song tone: “Aai taa yong khey na na (We are getting scared).”
In another incident, a smartly dressed man in his thirties, probably a political candidate, visited people of a remote hamlet in southern Bhutan, accompanied by gaggle of party workers. He introduced himself first, and with an aura of preeminence, declared: “Teme haru koh ghar jalai dintsho moi ley (I will burn down your houses).”
The people listening to him were baffled, wondering why this man wants to destroy their old dilapidated huts. It’s only after a few conversations back and forth that people in the village realized he meant was “electrifying their homes”.
Call it sheer naivety or height of miscommunication, this is what is happening in some rural places across the country. Politicking and campaign have begun in earnest. And some of our rural folks are getting visitors who are almost alien to them.
For the time being, it’s candidates and parties that are in a rush against time – in a rush to entice maximum hearts and in a rush to woo maximum voters. All that they know is that they have limited time at their disposal.
The contestants are aware as well and even party presidents are leaving no stone unturned to cover as much districts as they can. Candidates are touring their constituencies, travelling to places that they have never been so far, and attending the common forum debates when not traveling.
While the good and bad aspects of politicking cannot be ruled out, what is pivotal here is in maintaining political decency. The word doing the round is that party workers are going all out to woo voters, and in so doing, they are getting carried away. Such politics of ‘either you are with us or against us’ can spell disharmony in a small society of ours.
We are a young democracy, grappling with new ideas and political process. Politics is an inevitable part of the democratic process. We can’t help it. But what we can, is how we choose to conduct ourselves in politics, adhering to the highest ethical standards. And the onus of keeping politics clean falls on the parties, candidates, election officials and regulators, and even voters themselves.
Most importantly, what we should keep in mind is the larger picture – democracy. At the end, all of us must strive to build a strong foundation for democracy, and ensure that it can be sustained through generations to come. And it would be determined by how each one of us are playing our roles today – as candidates, party workers, and voters. That’s what it matters!