The ECB study also reveals that Druk Phuensum Tshogpa still boasts of the largest number of supporters in the country
By Tashi Namgyal/Thimphu
The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) has the highest number of registered members among all the political parties in the country.
According to a recently released list from the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB), DPT had 5,267 members, while People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had 5,143 members and Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP) had 1,200 members.
The ruling party, Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) had the lowest number of members with only 200 since the 2018 elections when the party had close to 11,000 registered members.
From just around 900 people affiliated with political parties during the second Local Government (LG) elections five years ago; the numbers have now risen to around 12,000.
However, elections officials said that it could be an instance of the party offices retaining members despite members not renewing their membership. It all came to light when some aspiring candidates for the upcoming Local Government (LG) elections found that they were already listed as registered members of political parties although they did not renew their membership since the last election.
Two Thromde Tshogpa nominees were even disqualified after scrutinizing due to party affiliations during the Thromde elections earlier in April. It was found that the nominee was still a member of PDP although he did not renew his membership which surprised him.
Likewise, another aspirant for the LG elections was aghast to know that his name was still listed as a member of one of the political parties despite him not engaging in any works affiliated to the party. He was disqualified from contesting for the elections which left him disappointed.
“For me, the fault lies with the party office or the secretariat,” said a former PDP party member from Tsirang who did not want to be named. “It is their job to deregister us from the party membership once we inform them of our inability to serve them after the elections due to some circumstances.”
For some, the mandatory cooling period between deregistering oneself from a party membership and contesting in upcoming elections was also found irrelevant and time consuming.
“Once deregistering ourselves officially from any party affiliations means we are completely cut-off, and that should serve as the basis for us to foray into other immediate ventures like elections in our case,” another disgruntled former party worker and an aspirant for the upcoming LG elections from Tsirangtoe said.
Most of the members argued that it is only forthcoming to assume that they would be spontaneously deregistered if they did not renew their membership.
However, like the confused lot of electorates, even most of the party officials are unsure about what would happen to the membership in case there is no written application from the withdrawing member, or if the member does not renew his/her membership.
But party officials also said that it was wrong to retain membership if an individual does not want to be a member under any circumstances.
“It is clearly a case of basic moral and ethical standards for which there is no need for any written document in the party charters,” one party official said, adding that it is like feeding someone who just had their fill and does not want to eat.
“We have to respect that at any cost,” he added.
In most cases, people felt that they did not keep their membership since the elections were done.
Although the ECB maintains the membership lists of all political parties, it is the responsibility of the respective parties to submit all updated records to ECB from time o time.