Let the euphoria be short-lived!
Because there is much work to be done, and although the ballot box has handed over an unequivocal mandate to Navin Ramgoolam, he must not tarry to address several of the issues that rankled and that will start to do so again shortly.
At the Mauritius Times, we were never in doubt about the correctness of the Labour Leader’s strategy to ally himself with the MSM, thus putting on his side the best chances to win – which he had aptly assessed that MMM could not confer – and to go for quick elections following a short campaign.
During his interview by Radio Plus on the eve of the elections, when he was asked whether the alliance with MSM was not based on communal considerations, he rightly shot back that those who leveled this accusation seemed to forget the presence of the PMSD in that alliance. And that he valued the contribution of the PMSD as much as he had seen an opportunity to broaden the base of the winning coalition by roping in the MSM.
On the road to renewal of confidence in his government, Navin Ramgoolam had chosen to be national rather than partisan. He has maintained his image of a national leader, whereas whatever little that was left of Paul Bérenger as a national figure has dissolved to mark him, now and for good in the history of Mauritius, as rather a tribal leader. Not even a minor leader – which would have at least sounded better – since even Ashock Jugnauth has lost. Paul Bérenger cannot even make his significant minor leaders win – let this be a lesson for them.
During his own interview with Radio Plus Paul Bérenger, in his trademark patronizing tone, asserted with the spurious conviction of which he only has the secret, that nou pe alle vers ene grande, grande, grande victoire. Three times grande – having followed his political path for years now, we know that demagogy has ever been his forte. And it was more than present, again, in this campaign. If he had concentrated his fire on explaining clearly to the people exactly what and how he intended to make their lives better instead of railing against the MBC-TV and its director, he might yet have emerged more honourably. But he chose to backbite, as he was short of more cogent arguments.
In this he has been joined by his lieutenant Rajesh Bhagwan who, once the results were out yesterday, had the gumption to also allude to the MBC-TV, as if the MMM too did not make full use of the latter during its earlier campaigns. He said that the MMM would remain on the coaltar and asked where was the 60-0 that Navin Ramgoolam had forecast? Ah, Mr Bhagwan but where is the grande, grande, grande victoire that your paper God had predicted? No mention of the massive and clear bias that one daily paper displayed towards Paul Bérenger and his alliance. Despite which… they bit the dust.
But we will agree that a healthy democracy needs a strong and efficient opposition – and we hope that the MMM will rise to the occasion. Yes the people have also voted in an opposition, and it would be good for the winning alliance to remember that too.
Paul Bérenger stated in l’express of yesterday morning that he had the list of his ministers ready in his pocket, or was it his mind? Is there a sniff here of intellectual limitation, in not having been able – despite all the 41 years of experience in politics – to make a more accurate assessment of the mood of the country? For he stressed very emphatically on that mood, which was judged to have already swung largely in favour of the MMM. In any case, this doesn’t seem to matter any more. At this rate of losing, it would seem that the list held by Paul Bérenger will henceforth gel in whatever location it is situated. The actors may not be there in 2015, when a more aged Paul Bérenger will postulate for prime ministership afresh – at least we presume. Jamais deux sans trois, isn’t it – who knows, he might be third time lucky?
What this election has also shown is that there is no monolithic voting, save perhaps in the case of Cehl Meeah, whose primal appeal to his coreligionists seems to have found a response. Other than that, the Mauritian electorate has shown that it has voted more with its head than its heart. In spite of the nauseating overtly casteist and communal so-called analyses peddled by the press pitching for the MMM leader and his alliance, the people have demonstrated clearly that these two elements loomed less in their radar than the consideration of giving power to the best political combination on the national scene. Candidates of both alliances sought and obtained the votes of all the communities found in their constituencies. In the nature of things, in areas where a given community predominated, it goes without saying that its contribution would be determining. Otherwise Mr Bhagwan for example would never have been elected. So it would be better that he – and his leader — stop ranting about communalism on the part of LP and its leader. When will you mature Mr Bhagwan?
And now, we urge the new government to get down to work in earnest and address the multiple issues and concerns of the public. Two words are capital in conveying the spirit in which this work must conducted: TRUST and RESPECT.
And it is the leader who must lead both by example and by overseeing that his ministers understand exactly what trust and respect mean. Thus armed, a third mandate is not excluded – might as well prepare the ground starting NOW.