Blog: Amazing Grip
The grip of the Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam over the political situation in the country is amazing. Only a few months ago he was cornered and had to fight for the survival of his government.
Bolden by a new found strength, Paul Berenger negotiated the so called remake of 2000 alliance between MMM and MSM with the President, Sir Anerood Jugnauth. The terms were similar, sharing of prime ministership between Sir Anerood Jugnauth for three years and Paul Berenger for two years and equal tickets between the two parties, i.e. thirty each.
He forced the President to resign and take the leadership of the new alliance. His resignation was expected to bring six MPs from government side to cross the floor, thus bringing the government into a minority. General elections were supposed to be organized in such circumstances.
Navin Ramgoolam coolly assessed the situation, got two members of the MSM to join government, rallied his troops and called upon his followers to express publicly their support. On Labour Day, May 1, the crowd at his meeting was bigger, much bigger than that of the MMM-MSM. A total disappointment to Sir Anerood and MSM. The MMM-MSM then decided to hold joint press conferences and to organize public meetings in all constituencies. The meeting failed to draw the expected crowds and enthusiasm. MSM was expected to bring at least 10% of the electorate in the remake. It miserably failed to do so.
SAJ publicly expressed his disappointment by wondering why the Hindus have their umbilical cord attached to Labour.
And Paul Berenger found a perfect excuse to throw cold water over the alliance when he learnt that Mrs. Hanoomanjee and Soodhun were secretly meeting government MPs. He unilaterally cancelled the joint press conference, postponed the meeting with SAJ which was meant to dispel any misunderstanding, and publicly expressed his support for the choice of the Prime Minister for the office of President and Speaker.
In fact, Navin Ramgoolam has become a master strategist by appointing Xavier Duvall as vice Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and promoting Anil Bachoo as vice Prime Minister. He consolidated his alliance and party structure by giving ministerial posts to Jim Seetaram and Mireille Martin. By forcing Roopun out of the office of Deputy Speaker, he promoted Pithambar. The vacuum created by MSM allowed Suren Dayal to become minister and other MPs to PPS.
The Prime Minister consolidated his grip over the civil service by filling the post of permanent secretaries at the top, thus making room for a cascade of promotions. He placed his men in top position in para statal bodies and government owned companies. He strengthened his links with socio cultural religious organizations and other civil society’s organizations.
His decision to prorogue parliament allowed him to come with a new government program. He had already got the budget approved. By bringing an amendment to the law on abortion, he forced all MPs to take a stand. In spite of the opposition from the Church, he managed to pass the bill by a handsome majority of MPs.
And then came his choice for the office of the President and Speaker. Kailash Puryag and Razack Peeroo met with unanimous approval. Although MSM forced MMM to boycott the parliament session, called to elect Kailash Puryag to the office of President, Paul Berenger publicly expressed his support and attended the swearing in ceremony at Le Réduit. All former Presidents were present with exception of SAJ.
For the election of the Speaker, MSM was present in Parliament. MMM boycotted the session in protest against the decision of the deputy speaker to expel Paul Berenger from parliament at a previous sitting. But he publicly expressed his support to Razack Peeroo.
Who could have imagined MMM and MSM supporting the choice and the agenda of the Prime Minister only a couple of months ago? I never had any doubt that the remake of 2000 was still born.
In spite of the propaganda of the oppositions that the country is mismanaged, law and order had broken down, the crimes are on the rise, that SAJ had come to save the country, the fact remains that government enjoys the support of the majority. Moody’s, the rating agency has upgraded the country and the banks and concluded that growth rate is positive.
Going by public statements of MMM and MSM, the remake is dead. A new alliance of MMM-Labour seems to be in the offing. But it will be only on terms and pace dictated by Navin Ramgoolam. His grip on the political scene is total.
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Former Director General, MBC.