Points to Ponder
Two plus two does not necessarily make four
A First Point: I have been waiting for the 1st of May clamour to die down before expressing my views on the political situation in the country. Which alliance has been able to pull the bigger crowd? The Labour Party-PMSD alliance? The MMM-MSM alliance? Those in favour of the first alliance say that their crowd was twice as big as the second alliance’s; those in favour of the second alliance are saying the same thing as well about their own crowd, as if those attending the meetings are nothing more than herds of sheep.
Those who are really independent cannot understand the reasoning of the politicians of all hues, starting from the Red and moving on to the ‘Mauve’ and in between having a pause before the Blue and the White.
But we are not concerned with the crowds because we know that the supporters of one alliance are not keen to attend public meetings but they do vote for their party alliance’s candidates when the time comes whereas the supporters of another alliance will make it a point to attend all the meetings as well as vote for the candidates fielded by their party alliance. That is why the Labour Party and its allies have won so many elections notwithstanding the fact that the MMM and its allies would have held so many very successful meetings.
It is a well known fact, and people generally say, that the MMM is quite popular with the General Population electors, who are concentrated in the urban areas and the suburbs thereof, and who usually vote for the MMM. The Hindus are mostly concentrated in the rural areas except for constituencies like Quatre-Bornes and Vacoas-Phoenix and these Hindus normally vote for the Labour Party.
The Muslim community is divided within itself. At one time, it was massively in favour of the MMM, but for some time it has shifted towards the Labour Party. A section of the Hindu community, namely the Tamil-speaking had been and it appears, still is, with the MMM — for some reason not known to us.
It is generally admitted that the MSM commands an electoral following of about 3-4%. No wonder it has never been very enthusiastic about contesting an election – let alone a general election — on its own. It has always sought the comfort and security of an alliance with the Labour Party, but more often with the MMM. We thus saw the MSM in alliance with the Labour Party at the last general election, but along the way it could not resist the MMM’s siren song and crossed the floor to join the MMM in yet another alliance – all this in the wake of the provisional charges against its leader and Mrs Hanoomanjee. It does not look like the party’s leadership has any idea about what the MSM’s political fate would be.
It is also admitted that the MMM has a following of about 35%. Yet it has agreed to part with 30 electoral seats for the benefit of the MSM, keeping only 30 for itself. What could explain the MMM’s generosity in favour of the MSM and to its own detriment? Especially when we consider what the party’s leadership had been saying about the MMM being strong enough to win any election on its own — without any crutches, or that it would welcome a three-cornered fight and it will talk of alliances only after the election.
From what we gather now, it does seem that the MMM is not that strong, electorally speaking, for it has given up on its claim that it can fight any election without crutches, the more so since it would appear to have conveniently forgotten about the three-cornered fight. What is surprising is that it’s Paul Bérenger himself who has brought his party, the MMM, down to the level of the MSM! Just imagine Paul Bérenger himself conceding that the MMM is so weak! I am sure that the supporters of the party – the ‘militants’ — will, once shaken off from their slumber, cause a row that will put the very existence of the MMM in jeopardy. One should not take the supporters of the party for granted.
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The way is clear for a three-cornered fight
A Second Point: We do not know for sure what’s on the mind of Paul Bérenger, but we can make a guess. As past elections have demonstrated, two plus two does not necessarily make four; at times, it can amount to less or more. Maybe Paul Bérenger thought that his electoral following amounting to some 35% plus the MSM’s 3-4% would fetch him victory at the polls thanks to the magical score of say 51%. But the recent May Day public meetings have proved otherwise.
Paul Bérenger surely knows that without the support of a good number of Hindu electors, it is impossible for the MMM to win an election, and so he thought of roping in Sir Anerood Jugnauth in an alliance to get the Hindus to vote for him. But there is a price to pay for this: the MSM’s support or whatever is left of the latter’s following will cause some members of the General Population and MMM’s Muslim supporters to abstain from voting. Finally, he might end up being the great loser.
The 30 seats offering is too crude to be taken seriously by the MSM supporters. On the other hand, I doubt if traditional MMM supporters would consider Paul Bérenger to be a creditable politician when he is acting against the interest of the party itself by conceding so much to the MSM?
Nevertheless we have to concede that Paul Bérenger has achieved something great – in line with one of the purposes for which he has always been in politics, at least this is what we learn from his actions. He has caused Sir Anerood Jugnauth to resign from the post of President of the Republic. Where have you ever seen a President acting in such a callous manner?
But there is more. Paul Bérenger has succeeded in driving a wedge between the Labour Party and the MSM. And the division has been effected in such a way that reconciliation seems more or less impossible between these two parties. Those responsible for this will some day have to answer for what they have done. This brings to my mind an episode in the history of India. One of the young and petty Indian princes went over to the British when others of his own kind were fighting against these foreigners. He helped the British. Later on the British wanted to get rid of the princeling and decided to shoot him down. He pleaded with them, saying that he had helped them so much. The answer was curt. He was told that somebody who has not helped his own people cannot be trusted to help others. They added: “You think you are one of ours? You can never claim to be what you are not.” And they shot him dead. Those who are not faithful to their own fold cannot be expected to be faithful to others.
At the end of it all, I am just wondering whether the MMM will really go in an alliance with the MSM for the next election? I do not think so. Now that the Labour Party and the MSM have fought like mad, and that there does not seem to be any possibility of their coming together again, the way is clear for a three-cornered fight. It will be easy for Paul Bérenger to conveniently get rid of the latest “remake”. With a divided electorate on the other side, Bérenger has cleared his way to win the election alone at least for once. But he seems to forget that the people will vote for that winning party which will safeguard their interest. And the great loser will be the MSM. Time will tell.
* Published in print edition on 11 May 2012