It is well known that ever since the MSM broke away from the government, one of the central preoccupations of political parties has been about the next major political alliance. It is when Pravind Jugnauth, leader of the MSM and son of the President of the Republic, was likely to be arrested by ICAC that the President publicly came out with the statement that everybody knows that “l’ICAC pé fané”, i.e. “it is public knowledge that ICAC is failing badly”. He made this statement after a meeting he had with Paul Bérenger in the morning. He intimated on the same occasion that he would resign if necessary.
Moving on, he stated in the course of a function at the Hindu House on 16th October last that patriots should stand up to protect the country if it is seen to be drifting towards a precipice. This is not a statement vaguely made. It automatically gets projected on the prevailing political condition.
The point has been made in several quarters, including in this newspaper, that it would be contrary to the necessary duty of reserve imposed on the President if he were to criticize public institutions of the country. He has plenty of opportunity to make his remarks on such matters to the Prime Minister during their weekly meetings, not publicly.
Moreover, the President is presumed to exercise his office above party politics. It would not be correct on his part to appear to be participating in a political debate with the suggestion that the country would be drifting away towards its loss. A statement of the sort could be interpreted as being tantamount to openly criticizing the government in place.
Of course, statements of the sort could be made by him outside of Réduit, more precisely from a political platform. As things stand, he is in office and as such, he is debarred from passing such judgements. These events are perturbing enough, if only from considerations of good governance. If they were to amplify, they would inevitably undermine the Office of the President, if harm has not been done already to this effect. One can only deplore this state of affairs.
According to l’express of yesterday, Paul Bérenger would have decided to put an end to his on-going discussions for a political alliance with the Labour Party. The same source claims that he is due to meet the President today and that this would be a preamble to an MMM-MSM alliance on a roadmap along the lines of the 2000-05 alliance between the two parties. There have been so many rumours of political alliances made or unmade from the time the MSM broke away from government that we are not quite sure how much credence to lend to this nth twist in the matter of political alliances.
If this information holds water, it is the reference to SAJ’s meeting with Paul Bérenger today to seal the MMM-MSM alliance that looks disturbing once again. Respect for the institution should dictate to the lawyer that SAJ is that it would be unbecoming for him as President to be involved in such decisions. We have not seen a denial so far of the suggested engagement of the Presidency in the deal. Yet, that would be the right thing to do to set records straight. If there has to be a fight, let it be but it should be a good and fair fight, not one from behind the curtains of Le Réduit.
Let’s for a moment concede that such a scheme is indeed afoot. There may be several reasons for airing it out. The first one would be to suggest as to where the political sympathies of the President lie. The second would be to get the reactions of the MMM voter base to the prospect of such an alliance and, if positive, to go on and about with it. Thirdly, the MMM may actually be truly still eyeing an alliance with the Labour Party and would be using the threat of its alliance with the MSM to leverage concessions in an eventual deal with Labour. Fourthly, the MMM may simply be playing up a drama to make Labour come back to agree on some possibly outrageous demands it may have made in view of an alliance with Labour.
For some time, both the MSM and the MMM leaders have separately been telling their audiences about how good the going was when they were joined in alliance in 2000-05. It should be recalled that some of the measures taken by this government were plainly retrograde inasmuch as they set the clock back to the disadvantage of the majority of the population. There were clear indications from the middle part to the end of its mandate as to who the alliance had set out to favour in particular.
Were an MMM-MSM alliance to crystallize however, the work of destabilizing the government will no doubt continue. It will consist of distilling doubts in the mind of the public without fetching any proof of the allegations made. The government will be portrayed as if it were dragging its feet. As such matters will keep the government on its toes, diversionary tactics will henceforth rule the day.
All this will not be conducive to progress the country towards its much-needed fundamental development. Already, concentrating all public attention on corruption is a totally misplaced priority in view of the challenges facing us in the eye of a possible tottering global economic downturn. No one was even suspecting that handling corruption would become such a preoccupation for the nation when politicians engage themselves in the “great task” of felling each other down.
On the other hand, there is much real work to do to put the country in a position to deal with the future international economic crisis that has already virtually pushed Europe into recession. Dealing with a contracting external market for our goods and services, as it is the case today, goes beyond the trivia of cheap politicking at home. When we see a plethora of leadership failures of the sort from top to bottom, we ask ourselves: when exactly will politics come out with clean hands to address real issues confronting the country?
* Published in print edition on 21 October 2011