By TP Saran
One must be really naïve not to see through the game plan of the MMM’s leader, which has been apparent from the time he set himself the objective of splitting the Alliance de l’Avenir. The MedPoint issue was his entry point, the spear that drove the wedge which finally widened into the gulf leading to the eventual separation. Very cleverly played, and those concerned went headlong into his trap before they even had time to say ‘boo!’ and realise what was happening.
They were sufficiently stunned to start tearing further at each other immediately. The worse loser was of course the young leader of the MSM, and the country along with him too, for he had started relatively well at a ministry which he had headed previously. On the other hand, there was clearly a strategic leadership issue that broke out into the MedPoint splash, complicated by some elements of family meddling that ought not to have been allowed in to start with. Had the initial cost estimate been agreed upon, things would not have come to this pass. But greed took precedence over national considerations, and we have come round to the same instinct again.
This time, it takes the veneer of l’élargissement de l’espace démocratique, once again driven by Paul Berenger. His intentions and wily ways, a result of his weakening position because his electoral base is narrowing, have been detailed very well by Dev Virahsawmy in the interview he gave to this paper last week. He should know better than anyone else for having been a true-blooded MMM from the party’s origins, and it is apparent from his views that he no longer trusts either the party or its leader to be able to do anything good for the country’s economy. However, the 180-degree turn towards Navin Ramgoolam with quasi-adulation for the latter’s – or the Labour Party’s – running of the country’s affairs may bias his analysis and perhaps he ought to see things with less rose-tinted eyes and call a spade a spade when there are ground realities that stare one in the face.
As he himself points out, there is an economic crisis in our traditional export markets, and it would no doubt take several years before our eastern neighbours become as business-receptive and lucrative. So is the time for consolidation of the economy or for wasting energy on matters that are not the people’s priority? What is more important: to create jobs, fill hungry bellies, improve conditions of daily living, enhance the quality of life of the people – or to increase the number of seats in the National Assembly to 86, which will incur more expenses? To arrange for Paul Berenger to get the highest job in government? – when he is already showing signs of burn-out as far as ideas for developing the country is concerned, again according to Dev Virahsawmy.
And as regards a President with enhanced powers, again here it would be important to know right at the beginning what significant positive change that would bring to the people’s lives. As advocated in this paper last week, such a crucial decision for the country cannot be decided only by two ageing leaders who are seeking their comfort zone in an arrangement that would extend the life of their burning candle – at the expense of the people. Put the detailed proposal and all its consequential fallouts to the people through a referendum, and let the country decide. We are adult enough that we do not need prescriptive remedies that smell rotten and are not in any way likely to solve existing problems.
There are sufficient powers in the hands of the politicians, and more enough than competence in our citizens to carry the country further on the path of economic development. We are convinced that no new electoral arrangement or constitutional change is required to make things run better in the country. What is truly needed is a clear sense of direction and a spelling out of what is acceptable and what is not in the country – and a reinforcement of the structures and systems that are mandated to ensure smooth running of the relevant institutions. This means no political interference – only strategic political intervention. The politicians know very well what this means, but they only see till the tips of their noses, and are mainly concerned about securing their seats for as long as possible to enjoy the spoils of power.
Give us a break, and let there be new blood and new ways of thinking instead of the usual noises about who will get the bigger chunk at the people’s expense. People, you are warned.
* Published in print edition on 3 August 2012