After all the Rumble and Tumble


The political scene appears all at once headed for a quieter moment compared with what it was just before and just after the rallies of 1st May.

It appears that the newly forged MMM-MSM alliance has decided to cool it off on the series of “pilgrimages” it had decided to undertake in various constituencies of the country following its rally of 1st May. It could have occurred to its leaders that it will fetch little dividends as of now by sending out SAJ to give the public his reading of the political situation. In that case, a lot of energy and resources will be expended unnecessarily. In the event, the reading of the opposition alliance would be that nothing much will change in the current composition of the political landscape. Given the limited impact continued public interventions would have on voters in the immediate, calling off the program of MMM-MSM meetings may hide other things.

One interpretation of this situation could be that the perpetual uncertainty as to where he should throw the weight of the MMM could have gripped the MMM leader again. Having decided at first to go it along with SAJ, he may have come to the conclusion that a lot of the issues being raised would fritter away between now and 2015 when the next elections are due. Another interpretation could be that the MSM would not, in the MMM leader’s view, command sufficient electoral weight for it to carry forward the alliance with that party much longer. In such a case, he had better keep more options open rather than sticking with the MSM. If such is the case, another turnaround on his part cannot be ruled out altogether.

It may be recalled that the recent exchanges we saw on the political scene revolved around alleged graft and corrupt deeds as well as personal issues on both sides of the fence. As for the latter issues, it is totally immaterial from a national point of view as to who did what with whom in which place at one time or other; yet, this was the main preoccupation of our politicians before and after the 1st May. All this rumble and tumble appears to have died down as the curiosity of the masses cannot be fed with more grimy details such as those they appear to relish in concerning the way of life of their political leaders, left and right.

In order to play out on a more commendable chapter, it was the duty of the opposition to point out flaws in the government’s approach to managing the affairs of state. While there have been remarks made to that effect, they have been at the level of generalisations. Not the bigger picture. There has been no forceful and convincing argument to tell the people that there exists, in their view, a different way of shaping the collective destiny of the nation. That the opposition has the necessary resources to forge a better destiny for the nation in this direction.

Short of rising to this level, the opposition is sticking to spotting certain perceived conjunctural flaws and failings on the government side in the hope perhaps that it will hit a sensitive chord capable of turning the scales in its favour. The effect of this situation is to project a rather shallow image of the capabilities of the opposition. If that were to continue for the next three years, it would serve to collapse whatever goodwill the opposition may be having as alternative government. In this scheme of things, the opposition must have realised that its current project to go out convincing voters to secure their preference for it may well turn out to be counterproductive.

As the MMM leader is a rather agitated person, what are the options open to him in the circumstances? That of leading a fight in solo against the Labour government by nit-picking a problem here a problem there? That of seeking a more carefree alliance with Labour by not alienating it the more? That of sticking with the MSM until the next round? That of repudiating the alliance in which it has just roped in SAJ, in order to be free to seek new hunting grounds for eventual political alliance? Making and unmaking forces on the political landscape? Getting more deputies in the Assembly by obtaining some dose of electoral reform?

We all realize how politics has become a playful thing, shifting from one issue to another, one at a time. It descended before the first May to the level of digging up the most abject of things in order to fill up its agenda to create sensations for the masses. All this is no longer on the agenda. Then, there was the issue of the sustained MMM-MSM “pilgrimage” in different places. This is being given up as well. Many red herrings, isn’t it? So, who will deal with the more serious issues which matter?

It is not alliances among the parties that are important. It is the capacity to define new scope and get that scope implemented which is becoming crucial. Why? Simply because the economic and political configuration of the world is going to change at a deeper level – and that is starting to happen right now – after this international crisis starts getting phased out. New ways of producing. Shift of economic poles. Combining upcoming technology capabilities to define markets and marketable things for re-configured consumers as economic geography changes. Without careful application of the mind on issues that really matter and will become enduring, there is a risk that we might lose the principal objective once again.

* Published in print edition on 8 June 2012

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