By TP Saran
Paul Berenger must be the happiest man in Mauritius today: his objective of creating not a split but a great divide between the MSM and Labour Party (LP) has been attained. A sustained campaign in which he has been robustly supported by his traditional backers has come to a successful end, and now LP and MSM are left to pick up the threads and lick their wounds.
As for him, without any delay whatsoever, he has already started on another campaign: to apply soothing balm to the wound of the MSM. Nobody will be fooled that the meeting between him and Pravind Jugnauth is going to be about electoral reform only. Since politicians in Mauritius have regularly shared their respective (political) beds, made up of all colours, at different times, the option of jumping beds is never taken out of the agenda. And so we will surely find the two leaders, after some time, vowing each other fidelity and inventing reasons to justify their coming together on the same platform – as always ‘in the national interest.’
There are two conclusions that have been always obvious to all Mauritians:
- There is a grand amour mais pas d’amour-propre;
- There are no permanent coalitions, only permanent individual interests in Mauritian politics.
If the Jugnauth clan had counselled their prince more wisely, the dice was loaded on Pravind Jugnauth’s side for him to, in due course, wear the mantle of Prime Minister on his own strength. Instead, he will be propulsed on the front scene by the wily Berenger as a paravent Prime Minister.
Of course, if he prefers to play second fiddle, that is his right. But he will have all the time to regret that he had the choice of being a first, which he mishandled.
On the other hand, it is quite possible that he has had other plans in mind for his party from the beginning, such as a coalition with the MMM, and perhaps applying the same tactic as he has in the wake of the convening by ICAC of Maya Hanoomanjee: namely, a démission en bloc of the MMM and MSM so as to force general elections. In which case, he will be paravent and a shadow trailing behind a lider maximo – assuming that they win.
Truly, time for a third force in Mauritian politics, so that we are forever rid of bonnet blanc blanc bonnet.
Of surprise visits to Victoria Hospital
Something that has always perplexed many people is: why do ministers of health always make surprise visits only to Victoria Hospital? And why so at always convenient hours instead of at the dead of night in, say, their pyjamas – wouldn’t it have been better, if they genuinely wanted to play reporter, to be incognito?
Could it because these ministers all happened to live in Plaines Wilhems? Why, for example, no surprise visits at SSRN and Flacq Hospitals? No wonder so many remain perplexed.
One minister took a bicycle ride at Victoria Hospital while he was on his exercise trip. Another Acting one dropped by while going shopping. And so on. The impact of the passage of these ministers has been as flitting as their surprise visits: nobody cares. Because they were showy, boisterous, vulgar in a number of instances, and hardly understood the vital issues at stake in such an important sector of the country’s development, which needed to be pondered with a cool mind, in balanced manner, and preferably with those who are competent, aware, and mature in the field.
Instead of reputation, they got notoriety. Which, in retrospect, is what they deserved.
What will the newly appointed minister choose?
* Published in print edition on 12 August 2011
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