Militants sans Paul?

By S. Callikan

The erosion of militants or that of idealistic militancy, the familiar grid of community-caste analysis, the constant departures and splits, the ageing leadership, the long spells on Opposition benches, are all taking their toll on the party

What to make of the pre-electoral “mercato” under way, targeting it would seem some elements of the MMM who had a reason to be quietly or overtly disgruntled and could be canvassed and seduced by the Sun Trust strategists to constitute a new variety of turncoats, those who were ready and available to jump aboard the MSM-ML tram well before it is due to leave the station?

Of course, “transfuges” are nothing new under our sun, and whether we like the political phenomenon or not, all governments have had recourse to shoring up support from a few Opposition MPs when the numerical strength of the alliance in office is wavering. At times, the whole Opposition party, lock, stock and barrel jumped on board the government tram as in 1991, when the now ageing theme “réunification de la famille militante”, namely MSM-MMM, was birthed.

When the PMSD slammed the door as a matter of principle on the urgent Prosecution Commission Bill and left the 2015 government benches and privileges, the MSM-ML government and the Sun Trust, despite having enough of a parliamentary majority, moved quickly to secure additional support from five turncoats: Wong, Monty, Sorefan, Joomye, Lesjongard. All were willing to oblige by blasting their former party or its leader and celebrate their new-found berth as adjuncts to the famous “lakwizin”. Whether the perks and privileges they enjoyed for a few years were worth it and will be judged benevolently by electors remains to be seen.

The new arrivals from the MMM-fold are a slightly different dish, with a more pungent taste for many observers and for the MMM leadership, which gave the impression of being completely back-footed by last week’s “surgical strike” by the Sun Trust. It had the hallmarks of a long crafted, well-prepared and deliberately-timed manoeuvre, barely a week after some of those turncoats were being paraded by Mr Berenger himself as MMM constituency candidates. True, they were mostly second and third arrows from the MMM quiver, to be joined by a couple more a few days later, but the calculated intent was to inflict a harrowing body-blow to a party already struggling to wash off a family-party connotation.

But although the MMM leader did show early signs of faltering under this unexpected hostile bid, there are no reasons to suspect that the collective party leadership will roll over and not recover from the obvious disappointment. Neither are there reasons to believe that such defections would be welcome either in their assumed constituencies or in the MSM, where some standing members may have to make way for newcomers being offered goodies. In actual fact, the move may prove counter-productive should it generate some sympathy for the embattled historic MMM leader and his team.

Notwithstanding the sympathy, some observers have reflected on the MMM’s variable geometry with stoutly proclaimed “values and principles” which regularly made way to strategic politics as the party shifted from the nineties onwards and got hard-wired into pre-electoral alliance thinking with, in turn, the MSM or the Labour Party. The erosion of militants or that of idealistic militancy, the familiar grid of community-caste analysis, the constant departures and splits, the ageing leadership, the long spells on Opposition benches, are all taking their toll on the party. Some observers are more shocked with the ease with which other stalwarts who had left the MMM-fold since 2015, the Ramanos, Obeegadoos and Labelles, who had been highly critical of the MSM-ML are now ready, it seems, to provide the “cinq sous” still missing from the MSM-ML-Transfuges gathering, while it is no secret that open doors and goodies would be available to some in the Mouvement Patriotique.

Does this unabashed mercato tell us more about the political morals, ethics, values and principles of those willing to dance to the tunes of pied pipers they had stoutly denounced for years? Or those happy to revile their former party, its leadership or its structures as proud converts? Or about the MSM-ML’s self-perceived strength, as it shied away from every electoral opportunity? Or about our own foibles in having elected and suffered so many bombasts and rhetoricians for so long? Or about the vicissitudes of our electoral system where the ticket and the status of parliamentarian seem to have become a graal for which some will go to any lengths? It clearly points towards a jamboree alliance of MSM-ML-Turncoats (Wave1- Wave2- Wave3…).

As the existing “proper” turncoats and those applying as fodder of the same ilk all emanate from the MMM spheres, there is little doubt that Sun Trust strategists could earnestly market this as another reunification, that of militants-sans-Paul thriving under the Sun. After all, Pravind Jugnauth did repeatedly say that he had a strategy and knew where he was going. The proof of the ‘pootoo’ (our national pudding) will be with the electorate…

* Published in print edition on 6 September 2019

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