Points to Ponder
Has the economy been mismanaged?
A First Point: I have always followed with a keen interest the exaggerations of the MMM together with its allies on how strong it is and how it will trounce its opponents at any time, anywhere. I did that during the last general election in spite of the fact that I had the feeling that the MMM-MSM alliance would lose the election in spite of the fact that the Alliance was the incumbent government and it had at its disposal so many facilities.
The MMM-MSM alliance of those days was boasting that such an alliance would be unbeatable by any party or alliance of parties, but unfortunately for it, the Labour Party-PMXD alliance proved too strong. After the election, both the MMM and the MSM laid the blame for the defeat on each other, but now is not the time to apportion the blame for debacle. I hope to do some time; let us now wait for the clamours to die down.
For this election also the MMM has started its usual boasting and exaggeration round. I have heard both Paul Bérenger and Rajesh Bhagwan saying how strong the MMM is, how weak its adversaries are and how easily they are going to win a majority of the seats. They accept that the then Alliance Sociale was very strong and that is the reason for the MMM wanting at all costs to have an alliance with the Labour Party, but now they say that the l’Alliance de l’Avenir has become a weak alliance. Maybe because a Labour Party-MMM alliance did not materialize at the last moment.
What is the MMM saying against the Alliance de l’Avenir? It is saying that the economy has been mismanaged. Everybody knows that the world has been through a financial turmoil, but we have been preserved from its worst effects, but the leader of the MMM and Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo, the economic affairs spokesman of the MMM claim that Mauritius has suffered a lot, far more than other countries, because the economy has really been mismanaged. The Alliance de l’Avenir claims that such is not the case and, according to me, rightly so, because Mauritius has not suffered as much as other countries.
But the best evidence that our economy has been well managed during the crisis comes from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and such other international institutions, supported by the opinion of economists of world repute. As against the opinion of these institutions and personalities, we have the opinion of the likes of Paul Bérenger and Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo and we have to choose who is speaking the truth and what makes economic sense. There can be no choice but to agree that the economy has been well managed, the more so as those international institutions and those economists of world repute do not have to lie about the situation in Mauritius. They have been all praise for Mauritius. Do you want me to believe Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo and Paul Bérenger and reject the views of such institutions and personalities?
I would suggest that Paul Bérenger and Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo should refute the IMF and the World Bank and the well known economists who have expressed views on the Mauritian economy. They should perhaps call them liars for having painted a rosy picture of the situation in Mauritius. Let us see if they have the courage to do so, then we shall perhaps know that they can be and they are as good as the IMF and the World Bank and others. But till then I prefer to go by the opinion of the international institutions and other experts.
What is happening to Paul Bérenger these days?
A Second Point: What is happening to Paul Bérenger these days? He had always been, or appeared to be, serious minded when addressing public meetings as well as private meetings. He used to be serious enough to convey whatever message that he wanted to his followers and those messages had some influence on those followers. But now I see a different Paul Bérenger standing before a crowd.
First of all, for a politician of that calibre, it does not become him to crack jokes on the microphone during the electoral campaign. And he laughs at his own jokes and he looks like a real clown. He is the leader of the opposition, the leader of the Alliance du Coeur and he aspires to be the next Prime Minister.
Secondly, he had the habit of using reasonably polite language when addressing his followers except when talking of his political adversaries of the day in private. Nowadays, he uses vulgar language, a language that people should not use in the presence of ladies, but yet, I heard him using such a foul language on two occasions. When he uses such language, people just do not care for him, saying that this is the type of language with which he is familiar. And they quote the example of “intellectuellement limité” when talking of Baichoo or “rasoir” when talking of Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo or “Pac Pac” when talking of Dinesh Ramjuttun. But these are not foul language in themselves, though they are very demeaning to the persons who are the butt of such a language. However these days, when talking to his followers in a private meeting, he uses an insulting and foul language, and this is a fact.
Thirdly, his body language used to reveal a lot of what Paul Bérenger was thinking but these days, his body language is difficult to understand. One moment he conveys one message and the next moment, we get a completely contrary message.
All these do not suit the man of culture that we took Paul Bérenger to be.
Is it because Paul Bérenger has the feeling that the MMM-UN-MMSD is going to lose the next election, he does not know how to go about campaigning seriously and therefore he indulges in clownish methods that will make his followers laugh for a moment? And at the same time, he insults his political opponents, and this also makes his followers laugh for a minute or two? I do not understand the Paul Bérenger of these days. I would prefer the old-time Paul Bérenger any time.
I have been told that he has gone down to the level of, not only insulting his political adversaries, but he is alleged to have gone to the bassesse of bringing in the close relatives of these adversaries. I am told that in Vacoas, at a meeting, he insulted Xavier Duval. He is alleged to have said concerning Xavier Duval “baize so m…”. I am sorry to have to write this, but I have no choice. I am sure Paul Bérenger fully understands what is the meaning of these words. He is not just anybody, he is the leader of the opposition who claims to be the future Prime Minister of the country. It is difficult to accept such public pronouncements coming from the leader of the MMM. Is this the culture of the MMM?
A Third Point: The Alliance de l’Avenir came out with the names of its 60 candidates. Some people say that it has come out at the last moment. But those people must understand that this is part of the Labour culture and if it would have disclosed the list earlier, it would have gone against its own culture, it would then not have been the original, genuine Labour Party.
Six Ministers and eleven sitting members have not got their investiture this time. We can just guess the reasons as to why those ministers and members of the National Assembly have not received their tickets.
(i) You can be a first class technician, you can be very intelligent and you can have the best advisors possible, but when coming up with your measures, you must not think of the economic advantages only, you must think of the political consequences as well. If you go against your own people, then you are courting trouble, and trouble is bound to catch up with you sooner or later. Be a good technician but at the same time be a good politician.
(ii) You cannot bring down the reputation of you colleague in the same constituency or even in another constituency, and of the party, especially if your action tends to divide the electors between two groups. There must be a solidarité sans faille between colleagues, otherwise you are courting trouble.
(iii) You must not allow the suspicion of corruption to fall on you. Nobody is saying that you are a corrupt person, because then you could have seized the Supreme Court, but the suspicion is slowly and insiduously spread around without making a direct accusation. This type of suspicion is very pernicious and dangerous in the political field. And it is very dangerous to get out of it.
(iv) You are judged on your performance. In politics, the electorate is the final judge and arbiter at the same time. If they say that you have not given them satisfaction, and a majority of them say so, the chances of your being re-elected are very slim, therefore be prepared.
(v) Treat all your constituents on an equal footing. Do not consider one group to be closer to you and give the members of that group some benefits that others would not get. At election time, you will have to answer.
(vi) It is time for you to give way to others, in spite of the fact that you have done reasonably well. Accept what you are told, help the party and the party will be grateful.
I hope that those members who have not got their ticket will understand what I mean.
Grégoire: MMM’s agent
A Fourth Point: I said last time that Jocelyn Grégoire is against Navin Ramgoolam, therefore against the Labour Party and the Alliance de l’Avenir. When I said so, I had to overcome some doubts on the matter, but now I am sure that he is working for Paul Bérenger, Eric Guimbeau, Ashock Jugnauth and their crowd.
Just consider what happened in Pamplemousses at the meeting of the FCM. From beginning to end, he criticized Navin Ramgoolam, he harped on such criticism to his heart’s content. On the other hand, he did not criticize Paul Bérenger, nor Eric Guimbeau nor Ashock Jugnauth. And he says that he is not giving orders as to which party the Creoles should vote. However, at the same time, he criticizes the Alliance de l’Avenir. I would have appreciated it if Jocelyn Grégoire would have said it openly that he is giving orders for the Creoles to vote the Alliance de Coeur, but for reasons best known to himself, he passes on his message in a negative and surreptitious way.
His message becomes more clear when he gets rid of Edley Chimon who chose to stand as a candidate for the forthcoming general election. And Edley Chimon’s sin has been to be a candidate of the Labour Party and not for some other party. I heard it somewhere that the Creoles should get more involved in politics, but I think that this does not apply to Edley Chimon. Being involved in politics apparently means joining parties opposed to the Labour Party. Maybe if Edley Chimon had chosen to be the candidate of some party other than the Labour Party, the MMM for instance, things would have been different.
I have been informed that all the Creoles are not in agreement with Jocelyn Grégoire. Quite a number of the members have voiced their opinion rather loudly and some organizations of the Creoles themselves have said that they do not agree with the façon de faire of Grégoire. I would have welcomed unity among the members of the Creole Community, but unfortunately, this is not to be. Let us see how many members of the Creole Community follow Jocelyn Grégoire and how many express their choice freely. I have always thought that the community is intelligent enough and it does not need to be spoon-fed.
As matters now stand, it looks that the Mauritian population will be as fragmented as it was in 1967. We know the persons who then were behind this division, those persons who wanted to preserve their economic and other powers. They then used politics directly to achieve their purpose. But these days they are using the Christian Church and other persons. This is my feeling.
And I see that those who are talking of communalism are themselves more deeply involved in the worst form of communalism. When Paul Bérenger speaks of the minorities, it is understood minorities versus the majority, is this not the worst form of communalism? When Jocelyn Grégoire, a man belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, who speaks of the Creoles as not having been treated well by the government headed by a Hindu, and so many other things, who criticizes the Alliance de l’Avenir headed by the same Hindu, without giving the same treatment to the Alliance du Coeur, headed by Paul Bérenger, I see in this another form of communalism. If you still feel like obeying your masters, that is your business. If you cannot break your shackles after so many years, I am not at fault.
Democracy demands that you vote for the candidate of your choice. In Mauritius, if you act according to the tenets of democracy and so vote for a Hindu Prime Minister, you are taxed a communalist. You are called upon to vote for a non-Hindu, for Paul Bérenger for example, then if you follow those instructions, you are called a good Mauritian, an enlightened person, even if you think that a Hindu would make a better Prime Minister for you. It does not matter. Do you want to be called a communalist just because you vote according to your conscience? Ask a member of the MMM and he will tell you that this is so.
The professional journalists play a major part in all these political happenings. I am talking of the written press as well as of the private radio stations. We must remember that, at one time or another, most of these journalists were in the MMM stable, and they are still prejudiced against the Labour Party, but they try to pass off as independent journalists!