Politics going berserk again

Some have asked whether we have not fallen out of the pot into the frying pan. The Leader of the Opposition has qualified the government as being leaderless. The leader of the Labour Party has stated that there is no government.

Obviously, a lot of it is mere rhetoric, as if we as a nation are in the business of setting up governments and replacing them. But there is quite some substance regarding the amount of disappointment certain government members have caused in the public.

When L’Allians Lepep appeared on the stage in 2014, it was seen as a redeemer by a large number of voters keen to avert the disaster the Labour-MMM alliance proposing major unacceptable constitutional changes represented. They saw it as a valid alternative to this alliance which was already seeing itself addressing the people after its inevitable victory at the polls.

On its part, SAJ as leader of this alliance – a past Prime Minister and President of the Republic – was seen as a serious person with a credible track record, worthier of trust. It was going to be something altogether different from past excesses to which the people had been witness.

Ivan Collendavelloo’s revolt against the MMM leadership when it decided to join with Labour was also welcomed. He was seen as bringing something better than the personal power-seeking of the leader of the MMM joining hands with Navin Ramgoolam. Thus, the credibility of L’Allians Lepep in the public eye was heightened.

Xavier Duval, leader of the PMSD, also joining this alliance with SAJ and Ivan Collendavelloo, was seen as a reinforcing factor. He was seen as neutral, having worked in alliance with different political parties in the past. He was also seen as bringing to the fold voters who did not always share the views of the MMM.

Above all, however, SAJ was seen as a binding no-nonsense factor for the new alliance going to the polls. With him at the helm in company of Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo, a former Minister of Finance having produced positive economic outcomes when he was in power, the alliance looked fairly well equipped in terms of manpower to take up the formidable 80% challenge the Labour-MMM alliance claimed to represent. In this role, SAJ, despite his advancing age, was seen as the bulwark to stem the Labour-MMM tide.

The December 2014 elections gave a massive victory to L’Allians Lepep, rubbishing the supposed electoral arithmetic behind the Labour-MMM alliance. Voters breathed a sigh of relief. As the new government unfolded over time, the flaws surfaced up. Cases of mishandling of public affairs soon hit the headlines, whether directly at the ministerial level or through the amateurish decisions taken by cronies placed in charge of key public institutions.

One minister had to step down. Certain others mishandled their chapters or went into meaningless hyperbole or even displayed unwarranted arrogance, severely hurting the government’s public image. Cronies were appointed without public call for candidature, much against what L’Allians Lepep had denounced as malpractice of the previous government needing to be dealt with once it would be in power. Scandals pertaining to appointments of wrong persons in the right places surfaced up, leading people inevitably to put on a par this government with the reviled ones of the past. Day by day, the government’s image is getting tarnished despite Pravind Jugnauth’s recent attempt to put order in the house.

Is it the hubris of power unexpectedly gained? Is it the weak condition the government suddenly found itself in when power seemed to have shifted away, in a terribly unbalanced way and to the utter discomfort of other Cabinet members, to a few individuals usurping the PM’s authority?

What has been emerging out of all this is a government which has been ruining itself from inside through a series of miscalculated actions and decisions. The wrongful manner of doing things has progressed to the point the Senior Adviser of the Minister of Finance who is also leader of the majority party in government, finds himself currently pitched in public confrontation against MSM Minister Bhadain. This, despite the Minister of Finance having publicly “owned” the actions of his Senior Adviser finding himself in opposition to certain of Mr Bhadain’s plans for the government.

Emboldened by the debilitating infighting going on within certain quarters of the government, the Leader of the MMM has recently appeared to be sending a lifeboat of a potential alliance to the leader of the MSM, but not including the leader of the government who has consistently backed Bhadain. He must be seeing the government as having sufficiently undermined itself from inside to deserve to replay the customary game of local politics, i.e., getting into a new face-saving alliance by ridding itself of all the scandals which have visited upon it as well as of the inept elements forming part of the government.

In such a case, as in the past, terms and conditions apply. It may be recalled that Paul Berenger and Navin Ramgoolam agreed to such terms and conditions after almost one year of laborious negotiations on power sharing. The outcome of the negotiations was vastly repudiated by voters in December 2014, leading to the incarnation of L’Allians Lepep as the new flag bearer of local politics.

The question is whether this kind of rigmarole will keep recurring to the detriment of the public, whether governments will in the process keep hosting within their ranks dubious elements putting their very existence and integrity in jeopardy once in power and whether the people should content itself to keep bringing up new, unworthy reincarnations of chips off the old bloc. What do the people gain by perpetuating a system which has kept giving a new lease of life to worn-out old politicians?

M.K.

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