Long live Labour!

MT 60 Yrs Ago — 3rd Year – No. 94  — Friday 25th May 1956

The by-election of Port Louis is over but the memories it has left behind will linger for a long time to come. Never in the history of Mauritius had a political issue given rise to such enthusiasm. But then never had a leader of the calibre of Rozemont left such a yawning gap to be filled.

We congratulate Dr Dupre on his election and wish him a bright and prosperous political career. His victory is also the victory of the Labour Party. There is no doubt that this election is going to give a tremendous impetus to Labourites. The opponents of the LP had thought that money could buy anything. They wanted to buy the cooperation of the people and they wanted to put a price on the conscience of the common man. The Labour Party on the other hand, imbued with a sense of respect for the rank and file, acted on the principle that human souls are not meant for bartering. And it got instantly the active cooperation and lively support it needed so much to face the powers of evils let loose by the Parti Mauricien.

That election has brought home the imperative necessity of having political parties. The crushing defeat of the two independent candidates will be a reminder to those entering politics that it is futile and foolhardy to venture on one’s own.

The success of Labour at the polls is the triumph of labour over conservatism and capitalism. The Labour Party with its positive programme and policy has been more than a match for the Parti Mauricien with its stubborn negative stand. We hope that the Parti Mauricien will learn from this bitter experience that backbiting and mud-slinging are not sound planks of political platforms. And let us expect that it will fight henceforth in a dignified way.

This victory of the Labour Party is bound to have some repercussion on our constitutional reforms. Throughout the electoral campaign the Labour Party made no secret of its determination to oppose Proportional Representation with all the power at its command. The Parti Mauricien, however, supported PR vigorously. By giving a majority to the Labour Party, has not the people shown that they are against PR? Will the voice of the people be treated in the same way as the voice of their representatives in Council? If the Secretary of State gives PR to this island, he will be openly flouting public opinion. This victory is also an unequivocal answer to the wild charge of Hindu hegemony.

While the smoke and dust of one battle are subsiding, another battle is taking shape. We must consider the registration of municipal electors as conscription of volunteers. Let us fight that other battle of Port Louis too with might and main. If we are at our respective posts in August, the stronghold of the Conservatives will have to surrender.

Labour has won and has rejoiced with dignity. Its opponents appear to be unable to accept either defeat or victory gracefully. It’s the same pandemonium when they lose as when they win. Finally we cannot do better than borrow from Hon. Rault a maxim which he in his turn took from elsewhere… “Labor Omnia Vincit”.

* * *

More about the M.B.S

Hon. Nairac held up our last editorial on the MBS in Council while discussing the constitutional reforms to give a picture of Hindu hegemony. When you show the disparity of treatment meted out to one community and another, you are labelled communalist. When you claim your right, you are branded nationalist. Others can defend their privileges and yet be good Mauritians!

Whether Hon. Nairac and those who are of his opnion like it or not, we are not going to cease denouncing favouritism and injustice even at the risk of earning the sweet but silly name of “nationaliste extremiste hindou”.

And so let us revert to the MBS.

Out of the seven and a half pages of the report only half a page is devoted to the Indo-Mauritian programme. That programme is broadcast daily for 1½ hours. Every week it contains a Tamil and a Telugu programme lasting thirty minutes and 15 minutes respectively. Let it be remembered that the Indo-Mauritian programme is the programme of Hindus as well as of Muslims.

What the report does not say is that commentaries on football in French and talks in English and French also have their place in the Indo-Mauritian programme.

May we ask why are football commentaries given in the Indo-Mauritian programme? Can’t they be put on the air on a different metre band? If not, why are they not recorded like the commentaries on the races and broadcast in the general programme?

And that scandal of including English and French talks in the Indo-Mauritian programme must stop. The different races forming the Mauritian community are put in water-tight compartments at the MBS. Why is there such a segregation in a government department? A distinguished Frenchman has recorded a series of talks on Indian music and that series has been broadcast in the Indo-Mauritian programme. Is that the way to foster mutual understanding? The racial discrimination at the MBS must be destroyed by organizing programme purely on a linguistic basis. If a talk in English or French by a Hindu or a Muslim is worth broadcasting at all, it must be included in the General Programme.

The MBS is spending about Rs 13,000 yearly i.e. a little above Rs 80 every week to publish its programmes in the three dailies. And those programmes are not complete. For example the Sino-Mauritian programmes, which last 45 minutes every week, are sometimes completely out of the picture.

The Hindus and the Muslims have one programme daily lasting 1½ hours. And there are three programmes daily in the general section lasting an average of a little above 8 hours. The Manager of the Indo-Mauritian programme is employed on a permanent basis but the speakers are not. Is that a picture of Hindu hegemony, Mr Nairac?

The report is silent on the Advisory Board of the MBS. Has the Board not done anything during the year under review? Has nobody suggested that the Indo-Mauritian programme should not be treated as a Cinderalla at the MBS mansion?


* Published in print edition on 2 February 2018

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