By Chetan Ramchurn

Those in office have announced the date of the next elections in their typical hit and run style. For once, this might not have been scripted. There is no hope of re-election should Ramgoolam be absolved from his last case. Rumours had the country buzzing with expectations on Friday the 5th of October. This was the teaser. The reveal was unveiled two days later. And as expected, fear has prevailed.

Jugnauth Junior already in panic mode after the Roche Noires verdict and with no more tricks up his sleeve following the inauguration of the tramway and the Rs 13,500 carrot, is now betting on a short campaign especially so that the 15th of November outcome is the Damocles sword hung above his and his acolytes’ heads. The intention is clear; keep the masses intoxicated with the tramway and the increase of the old-age pension while maligning their opponents.

This devastatingly bad government with soaring national debt levels, no new industries, a gargantuan drug issue, major corruption woes, hefty and often unnecessary projects à la Côte D’Or, its much hyped Safe City and the 23km/h tramway has spent more time hyping an unchosen Prime Minister than creating prosperity for its citizens. If it has raised the old-age pension and promises to do so over its next mandate, it has also weakened the rupee thus negating the very effects it purported to bring in the lives of elder citizens. This and the minimum wage are paltry gifts when compared to the bending over executed for the historic and state-supported bourgeoisies.

The MSM has advocated clientelism whenever in power. Every group has been segmented and targeted. That which lures the different clusters has been presented to them, be it religious fervour, glitzy shows, freebies and favours. This might be the closest we have come to a clientelistic state where an alliance “has taken over the bureaucracy, collective goods, and their distribution in order to preserve its hegemony.”

The feathers in the incumbent’s corner are ruffled. He is afraid and has despatched his lackeys to go on a shopping expedition so as to buy as many new pawns as possible. Even the much maligned and mocked will find a place on his list of candidates. These are desperate times and the prerogative of deciding when the elections will be held has morphed into a ticking time bomb that he had to get rid of as quickly as possible. He finds himself in the same situation as the despot in E.B. Dongala’s ‘The Man’ –

“but still he hides away in the depths of his palace, with its labyrinth of passages and corridors, mirrors and reflections, walled up because he doesn’t know when ‘the man’ will suddenly appear to strike him down in his turn, so that freedom, too long suppressed, may at last burst forth.”

It is our time to strike.

* Published in print edition on 11 October 2019

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