Politics cannot mean bitter personal antagonism between leaders. It is about devising the type of projet de société likely to usher a better socio-economic order
Looking at the political landscape in the country, one cannot help thinking of a sordid and vicious ‘Game of Thrones’. Despite repeated defeats, dented reputations and a pervasive rejection of the present political leaders, they still yearn to be king. It also conjures the image of deep personal antagonism and a no holds barred mano a mano between some rival political leaders. The rivalry is brutal and patently personal. It is basically a fight to the finish.
In essence, it is an endless clan war aimed at wresting supremacy over particular sections of the electorate, oblivious of the fact that people have so often demonstrated in general elections that they have a lucid and independent will and are certainly not captive bank votes. The political backlash of the December 2014 general elections and the subsequent municipal elections are the latest potent reminders of this truism. The highly partisan context of the forthcoming by-election in Belle Rose-Quatre Bornes has again fuelled divisive politics. There are already claims of abject communal electoral campaigns.
There are obvious clan wars between the leader of the MMM and the leader of the PMSD as well as the leadership of the Muvman Liberater and the Mouvement Patriotique, each vying to erode and capture each other’s electorate. The MMM, fractured and weakened by internecine conflicts is reduced to seven MPs, including one MP elected on an MSM ticket who adhered to the party recently. Its leader has had to cede the constitutional post of leader of the Opposition to the leader of the PMSD. The virulence of the latest verbal attacks and homily of the leader of the MMM on the performance of the leader of the PMSD as leader of the opposition epitomize the extent of the deep seated rancour of clans wars in the country.
No to speeches
A similar clan war opposes the leader of the MSM to the leader of the Labour Party. The holy and happy Diwali celebrations in the country became an unlikely battleground. Both leaders aided and abetted by some heads of socio-cultural organizations outrageously politicized the numerous functions organized to mark this auspicious festival, to trade insults.
Religious festivals are associated with a spiritual aura depicted by such terms as pavitra, shradhda, bhakt, parampara or dharmik. How can the two political leaders therefore arrogate themselves the right to mar joyful and pious Diwali celebrations with profane political speeches to settle their petty scores? How can they have the gall to pontificate about religious teachings or indulge in self-righteous moralizing when this is neither their calling nor a matter for the dilettante?
All this is anathema. Religion and politics make an explosive cocktail. They are poles apart. The sacred and the pious have to be kept clear of politics and its seedy, unethical and sordid trappings. The onus is on the religious establishments to make it clear to the political class and its leaders that speeches by politicians are proscribed at events to commemorate religious festivals and celebrations. This is already the long established rule in churches where speeches by politicians are obviously not allowed.
In the light of the many social ills and threats afflicting our society, is it not time for the religious Establishment to help combat such evils by transmitting in a structured manner across the country, with the learned support of a pool of trained spiritual teachers the essence of the profound philosophical thoughts and principles of faith so as to discern between right and wrong, through a language medium accessible to all? If beliefs are not rooted in sound faith, ethics and culture, people lose their bearings and cultural identity and become vulnerable. There are already clear signs of this happening in the country.
Clans and their endless petty wars are divisive. They perpetuate the political mindset of a bygone era of divide and rule, to vitiate and undermine the unity of the nation. As we approach the 50th anniversary of our independence, the people no longer want to move in endless circles and compose with the present political system built on undemocratic political parties led by their omnipotent leaders repeatedly sanctioned by the people for breach of trust. Mainstream Mauritius is united in its resolve to get rid of the present leaders of the main political parties who despite being repeatedly disavowed at the polls continue to hold on to their posts, as is the case in the worst banana republics. By maintaining these discredited leaders at the head of their parties, the parties are irreversibly plumbing their own future.
Politics should be a much higher calling than the abysmal level it has plummeted to in the country, when compared to the ideals, ethos and values of the political stalwarts who mobilized the workers and people to fight as one man for their rights and a better socio-economic and political order as from the late 1930s and 1940s. The battle was between the oppressed workers and the multitude against the combined might of the colonial Establishment and the sugar oligarchy. In this common battle of the people there was no division based on race, community or religion until the race for power by political leaders for power’s sake forsake primeval ideals and promises made to the people. The country has now come full circle. The people and the country want to reboot with the lofty ideals of pre-independence and re-ignite the sense of kinship of the multitude during battles won by fighting shoulder to shoulder for a better socio-economic order.
Politics cannot mean warring clans and bitter personal antagonism between leaders. It is also not about nurturing division among the people or blithely contracting pre-electoral alliances contre nature to keep or wrest power. It is about debating ideas and devising the type of projet de societe likely to usher a better socio-economic order anchored on merit based employment, equal opportunities, a level playing field for all and the narrowing of inequalities, with everybody on board. It is about the unity of the nation around these core unifying principles led by competent and talented young leaders able to take the people and the country to higher milestones of shared prosperity and standards of living.
For too long the country has composed with makeshift solutions which have systematically plumbed our prospects. The country is a democracy, yet too many political leaders still pipe dream to be monarchs. This is simply not on. The people deserve better. They have to say so and call the shots accordingly. The upshot would be so much better for people and country.
- Published In Print edition on 1 November 2017