By Tenzin Deshek
Throughout the entire run-up to the Katri election, I have grown more akin to the campaign and personality of Tenzin Namgyal Tethong (TNT). Not because I saw in him as an ideal candidate, but rather as a better alternative. Thanks to my cynical self! Over time, Lobsang Sangay (LS) has clearly proven what I see as his political immaturity and incompetency without fail. Regardless, LS still does have a lot of potential. On the contrary, he has the ability to inspire a massive number of people. His demeanor never lacks confidence. He is a good orator. He's got sufficient understanding of realpolitik albeit a few glitches and hiccups here and there and sometimes more than necessary use of clichés.
According to my own understanding, removing LS from the political scene, in case he loses (which is my own wishful thinking), would truly be an immense loss. As much as I would like him to polish his public image; gather some deeper understanding of political ingenuinity; exhibit benevolence; gain some grass-roots experience; and most important of all, learn to work and get along with people: LS on his part, needs to understand that in case of the previous situational assumption after the election, he does not need to resign from the public life and deny the dream of change to the wider public, rather he should be willing to accept any significant role he may assume or be offered, be it a designation provided by the new Katri, by the His Holiness himself or by his own non-official public position in any capacity.
The fact that he has a following of people who see in him their own aspiration is a huge asset. Why not take this opportunity to create a political opposition without which a democracy is no different from an autocratic institution? It is just my wishful thinking and I also understand the difference in circumstances of our situation from the rest of the world. However, I am also fully aware of the fact that democracy is not an ultimate key to all the problems in the world. It is equally important for the democratic practitioners to run the system in an orderly fashion. A pragmatic Rule of Law should also be place with our modest exile limitations to defend the interest of the minority aspirations and interests. Only then a genuine democratic institution can co-exist with a greater unity of Tibetans seeking self-determination of their own future course. Therefore, we Tibetans need LS as much as LS needs us. Not only is he a valuable figure for few Tibetans, but also for the entire Tibetan movement in the longer run, period.
On the other hand, Katri candidate TNT has repeatedly proven his meddle in this run-up with utmost humility, strength of spirit, clear vision amidst murky challenges, and with an aura of a par excellence statesmanship. At first glance, he may not seem very convincing for our very own unconscious biases and cynicism. However, over time, one cannot help but notice his deeper understanding of the ground realities and also his viable solution for the same. Although it may seem an unconvincing excuse, in plain words, he knows more than what he can convince us with his words. And even though I am tempted to use clichés to support my arguments, I will steer away from it, for it may foment unnecessary glorifications and hollow imaginations to the point of idiotic grin on my face.
The “experience” card is not some insinuating ploy to garner the votes of the general masses; it is in fact the epitome for any political leadership. LS has cleverly toiled towards labelling it as some un-progressive thinking or rather an old school guard to fend off positive change in an institution. He has even quoted some influential figures to back his argument. But, does he realise that we are not in some kind of revolution to overthrow a tyranny in our exile community? As for leadership, he fails to understand that the institution of Dalai Lama is sufficient for us Tibetans. What we need in this Katri election is not just a leader to inspire us; we in fact need a statesman with leadership quality to take the Tibetan question into the next level. We are a budding democracy that needs care and nourishment. Statesmanship is what we need at the moment. Meanwhile, I suggest LS to make more friends or rather learn to make more friends. Now, I hope LS will not question the meaning of friendship by recounting his political clout. TNT befriended me not by meeting me, cajoling me, or lulling me, and not even by some fantastic words and phrases; he befriended me by not even trying to befriend me.
--Editors' Reminder: Publication of any article does not imply endorsement of its views by the Editors.