Points to Ponder
2010 Elections and Ethnicity
A First Point: Let us see how communally minded the electors have been during the last election. I had said some weeks ago that a good pointer would be the way the electors in constituencies numbers 1, 17, 19 and 20 would vote. Now I can say that the electors in those constituencies have massively voted for the MMM. This is their absolute right and nobody can dispute this. We must remember that Jocelyn Grégoire, a Roman Catholic priest and the leader of the Fédération des créoles mauriciens (FCM) was saying that he was not giving any “consigne” to vote for the candidates of the MMM whereas he was in fact giving such “consigne”, and everybody who heard him understood exactly what he meant. Maurice Piat, the head of the Roman Catholics, has said that he supports Jocelyn Grégoire in his fight for the rights of the Creoles. The message could not be any clearer.
And in the constituencies 1, 17, 19 and 20, the Creole electorate is in a majority. If the MMM candidates in those constituencies, all three of them in each constituency, have been elected, they have been so elected to the detriment of the Creoles of the other parties, especially of the Labour Party-PMSD-MSM alliance, it clearly means that the MMM draws its support massively from the Creole community as envisaged by Jocelyn Grégoire. And Paul Bérenger and the MMM accuse the other parties, especially the Labour party-PMSD-MSM alliance of communalism! They must first of all get rid of the rampant communalism within their own ranks, and of the benefit they derive from such communalism before accusing others.
Do you know what happened in constituency no. 13? I am told that communalism, provincialism and racism were the order of the day. The matter was reported to Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo and Prem Aumeer, but they apparently did not care. But the backlash did happen and the MMM lost three seats as a result.
Socially, Jocelyn Grégoire could have done a good job, that of uniting the Creole population, but he has done a great disservice to the community when he entered in the political field. He gave the impression that he had, politically speaking, become the king of the Creoles and that whatever he would say would be binding on the Creole population. To a great extent he in fact got the allegiance of the Creoles, and that is how the MMM could get all its candidates elected in constituencies no. 1, 17, 19 and 20. But at the same time, there was a backlash from the other communities.
The Sithanen effect
What has been the effect of Rama Sithanen not being given a ticket to fight the election by the Labour Party? Some people say that the effect has been minimal. Maybe if he had kept quiet, he could have passed for a martyr, but he chose to fight Navin Ramgoolam who was his leader, and this is where he made a serious mistake. The people of Quatre Bornes had told the leadership of the Labour Party that they would not vote for Rama Sithanen. They said that Rama Sithanen may have been a very good technician at the Ministry of Finance but he was a bad politician. He should not have imposed the tax on the savings in the banks and also the tax on the residential properties. They say that not much money was collected by the Mauritius Revenue Authority compared to the size of the budget, but the political harm done was tremendous. Besides, most of the people who were affected were the supporters of the Labour Party.
In so far as the Muslim community is concerned, the members of that community have voted for the Labour Party-PMSD-MSM alliance in the rural areas just as they did for the 2005 general election. But in the urban areas, it was slightly different. The opponents of Rashid Beebeejaun resorted to some dirty tricks to shoot him down. What does the MMM think of the means resorted to by such politicians? If politicians get involved in the private life of their adversaries or of their families, this just shows their upbringing and their culture. Can such people be trusted by the population at large?
Dayal, Faugoo and the others
I have been told that there were some problems within the Labour Party-PMSD-MSM alliance as well. I will take an obvious example. In constituency no. 8 Moka Quartier Militaire, Suren Dayal had to face a very rough time. Everybody knows that the constituency of Moka-Quartier Militaire has been relatively well looked after by Suren Dayal for quite some time. Raj Ringadoo, who was a candidate of the Alliance Sociale, successfully challenged Ashock Jugnauth before the Supreme Court for bribery at the 2005 general election. Thereafter, the Alliance Sociale was fully entitled to field one of its own candidates for the by-election. But as the leader of the MSM could not get himself elected in the 2005 general election, he wanted to be the candidate for the by-election. Suren Dayal gave all the necessary support to get Pravind Jugnauth elected.
For the general election held this month, many agents of the MSM openly campaigned for the two MSM candidates, with the third vote being thrown elsewhere. The idea was clear: get the two MSM candidates elected and Suren Dayal was to be left by the wayside. I am told that the matter was brought to the attention of the two candidates of the MSM at the relevant time. And now the followers of the Labour Party are having second thoughts, from what I have been told. They say that they have voted for the three candidates of the Alliance de l’Avenir and they are wondering why those MSM agents have acted in such a dastardly manner against Suren Dayal.
Another candidate of the Alliance de l’Avenir was facing problems of his own making in the constituency of Pamplemousses-Triolet. That candidate was Satish Faugoo. He has been an MP representing that constituency for quite some time. The threat was very much there, but at the last moment the people were persuaded by the Labour Party leader to vote for Satish Faugoo. The other candidate, Devanand Ritoo, has been performing very well and he did not have any problem whatsoever to get elected. Now that Satish Faugoo has been given a last chance, he must deliver for the benefit of everybody in that constituency. We will say this much for the time being.
And then there is the case of Xavier Duval. We understand that the followers of the Labour Party have given their full support to him, but most of Duval’s supporters deliberately chose not to vote for Nita Deerpalsing and Kadress Pillay. Was this the effect of the brainwashing of Jocelyn Grégoire?
There is also the case of Pradeep Jeeha and his colleague who could not be elected whereas Joe Lesjongard was elected in the second place, sandwiched between two members of the Alliance de l’Avenir. Again, the effect of Jocelyn Grégoire could be felt in that constituency. Pradeep Jeeha should have stayed in constituency no. 6 where he had a far better chance of getting elected than Madun Dulloo. We told him so earlier…
The Senate and the MBC
I am all for the idea put forward in the manifesto of the MMM and that is the creation of a Senate. We have to remember though that this was suggested earlier by the Labour Party, but was then opposed by the MMM. This idea has been on the manifesto of different parties every now and then, but it has never materialized. Those who would be drafting a new Constitution must be mandated to consider the possibility of putting up a Senate.
The MMM has hit hard at the MBC during the election campaign. I followed the political broadcasts closely because I knew there would be criticisms. The MMM reported the MBC to the regulator, an enquiry was held from what I understood, the matter was heard by a committee, and all the grounds of the complaint were rejected. Then the MMM reported the MBC to the Electoral Supervisory Commission, the matter was referred à qui de droit and the MMM said that the Electoral Supervisory Commission was not doing what it should. It was ordered by the MMM to collect all the political broadcasts by the MBC, maybe for Court cases, but we do not know whether the ESC has obeyed the commands of the MMM or not.
A Second Point: We have quite a number of newspapers in Mauritius and most of them declare themselves to be independent. However, I wonder if any of them can really claim to be independent. Most of them support one political party or another, and that support usually goes to the MMM. How can they claim to be independent when most of the Mauritians think otherwise?
The recent election has given us the real character of the journalists and their real bosses. We accept them to be so, but we would like them to acknowledge this fact. After all, they are what they are, however much they will deny it.