Bhutanese a perplexed lot as democracy takes roots

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Kathmandu, Feb 1(UNI) The recent spate in a flurry of political activities in the tiny Himalanyan Kingdom of Bhutan is adding to confusion in rural Bhutan as people strive to come to terms with democratic practices.

The Bhutanese are confused between meetings organised by political parties and official meetings by the head of village administration.

With party politics penentrating deep into the villages local governance is feeling the impact of intense politicking in rural Bhutan, Kuensel reported.

''It is becoming difficult to organise any official meetings with people confused between meetings organised by party heads and official meetings called by the group village administrative head.

''When we inform people to gather for a meeting, they ask which party meeting it is,'' said a village official Ugyen Tshering.

''For them, meetings now mean either PDP's (People's Democratic Party) or DPT's(Druk Phuensum Tshogpa) meeting,'' he added.

The administrative official attribute the emerging problems to the meeting boycotting trends started after party politics penetrated deep into rural areas.

''People side with parties without logic and reasoning and refrain from attending meetings of the other party,'' said another official as people struggle to learn the nuances of democratic governance.

''If someone tells the party supporters of one party referring to the governments administrative meeting as rival parties meeting, people boycott it,'' said an administartive official.

For the rural people, a 'tshogpa' meant a village representative earlier but today with a lot of them, they are either a party worker or a member.

As political parties emerged, former local leader like gups and chimis, became party tshogpas and most people feel even the present local leaders are associated with political parties, said Tashi, 39, from Umling.

Village representatives are elected by the village people themselves where as party 'tshogpas'or heads are elected by the party and people know who their elected representative is, said the DPT dzongkhag coordinator, D Subedi.

Meanwhile, a meeting organised in lower Thimphu last week, to raise some land issues to the Thimphu City Corporation was boycotted by villagers mistaking it for another party meeting.


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