Touria Prayag's Blog

l’Express Weekly, 2 September 2011

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on February 27, 2012

One soap opera too many

The fact that Paul Bérenger has fi nally had a change of heart and decided to answer the CCID’s summons is neither here nor there. What is relevant is that he crossed the line by challenging the institution in the fi rst place. For, we are not talking here about a delinquent, a hooligan or a thug. We are talking about an ex- prime minister and aspiring next PM, the leader of the opposition, no less, defying the authorities and taking the law into his own hands.

It all started with the scandal which has become endless: Med- Point. Just as we had started to see a bit more clearly into the issue and were congratulating ourselves on the strength of our institutions, the leader of the opposition, out of the blue, and basing himself on hearsay, publicly comes out with a serious allegation against the PM, creating a great deal of confusion in the minds of an already confused population: the prime minister had allegedly contacted the chief government valuer himself, after a meeting with the MedPoint owner, Krishan Malhotra, and asked him to re- evaluate the clinic, inching the price up to double the initial one.

Now anyone who makes allegations should be pleased to have the opportunity of substantiating them. Not Paul Bérenger. No, Sir! He opted for a new style of soap opera and a show of bravado. Not only did he refuse to go to the authorities and face justice but he also declared that if he were arrested, he would refuse to pay bail and go on hunger strike. Our homegrown Anna Hazare, that is. The only thing missing is a cause. For, what cause is Bérenger defending? The same one that led to the resignation of six ministers from government? The cause which says that our institutions are fi ne as long as they do not probe into our affairs or those of people close to us? The cause that says that when we are in power we can go to the extent of dissolving institutions rather than facing justice and when we are in the opposition we go on hunger strike to rob them of any credibility? I must say, this is one up on the tactic which has now become tarte à la crème: brandishing a medical certifi cate. Had Maya Hanoomanjee been as resourceful, she would have gone on unlimited hunger strike to thwart the ICAC from indicting and arresting her. The MSM might still have been in government.

Of course, we are sensitive to the argument that Paul Bérenger needs to know why he is being called by the police. One surefi re way of fi nding out is by responding positively to their summons. We have heard everything and its opposite concerning this matter. The fact remains that not only do Paul Bérenger and his lawyers know why he is being called but so does the whole country. And it is very simple: he made a serious allegation and, in the interests of all the citizens of this country, he needs to tell us whether he can substantiate it or not.

The ‘ mobilisation’, which was called for during the last few days, could have been dangerous. We have seen ‘ supporters’, possibly fuelled on booze, adrenaline or both, forget that we are in a democracy and that the only way to fi ght injustice is through our institutions. Thankfully, Paul Bérenger’s supporters proved that there was still some rationality in this world.

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