Rumors are rife that the presidential debate will not be held for the general election. This, I suppose, is not welcome news for many, including myself considering that Presidential debate is the most watched debate of all the political debates telecast on BBS.

Consider this - while many might have already decided on the party to vote for, there are still many such as those who had supported DNT or DCT in the primary round, to form an opinion and decide to invest their vote in, unless of course, it is possible to get them to stream in their votes from a backdoor of unethical promises. There are also some section of people who are willing to be convinced, people who have doubts to be cleared and people who might change their mind, given they genuinely care for this country.

Presidential debate is important for several reasons. First, if not a constituency’s candidate, the party leader has a huge potential for influencing votes such as that we all witnessed in 2008. Secondly, this is the right forum for the candidates to inform the nation on what has been done and what needs to be delivered hereon – in essence, the improbable past and the promising future, atleast theoretically. And thirdly, getting to watch them speak and debate gives us all a feel and insight into the personalities of the candidates speaking live on TV which has a better reach and appeal than print media. It might also be the best chance for the candidates and perhaps their only chance to win this election over. Look at John F.Kennedy for instance, who had repeatedly claimed that without the televised presidential debate, he would not have been elected president over a popular Nixon in 1960. Public presidential debate is the modern political campaign’s emphasis on sound and image, personality and tactics and every citizen’s free right to opinionate and judge, atleast those citizens who will not be bought.

If debates are anything to go by, dhemkhong debates such as that of Mongar and perhaps even North Thimphu after yesterday have stirred quite an uproar. It remains to be seen how our south Thimphu candidates will deliver themselves at the debate tomorrow.

Politics is not a game for the weak and the forthright, it is a game for the steely nerves combined with an impenetrably clever mind, and fighting a personal battle in this game is playing victim to a pack of hunting wolves. Where Presidential debate is concerned, it is possible that a presidential or more aptly a prime ministerial candidate’s refusal to have a public debate could invite more repercussions than by his openness to critics on a debating forum but again, isn’t this POLITICS we are talking about!!
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