Touria Prayag's Blog

l’express Weekly April 27

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on April 27, 2012

Med Point, May Day and soap operas

Sir Anerood Jugnauth’s first appearance in his fief, announced
with much pomp and fanfare, was not exactly
the flop Deva Virahsawmy tried to make it out to be. But
it was not a triumph either. The few hundred die-hards
who headed to the meeting were numerous and enthusiastic but
not enough to make an impact. And the remake coalition did not
see it as an opportunity to gloat. It has understood that it could not
yet consign Navin Ramgoolam’s rule to history. So the language
has changed: Paul Bérenger is no longer talking about the “saviour
of the nation”. Instead, he is talking about “making sacrifi ces for
the MSM” in the middle of the fever which is catching up with all
parties as they gear up for May Day.
May Day! Don’t we just excel in the art of mass entertainment?
The kind which is most apt at delivering easy satisfaction
and quick gratifi cation. And, as an audience, we are all willing to
be entertained and cannot wait for the next stunt. And May Day
this year promises to be no less entertaining. All the ingredients are
there and the new fashion of the “surprise guest” seems to have
caught on. Now, it is the prime minister’s turn to announce his
“surprise guest” who will “make revelations about the godfather
and godmother of Med Point clinic.”
Pray tell, since when have May Day meetings turned into courts
of law? Why doesn’t the “surprise guest” go and surprise the ICAC
and our courts of law by revealing what s/he knows about the shady
deal of Med Point in the interest of the country? On the same soap
boxes, we will, naturally, get similar revelations, on the very same
May Day, from father and son about how innocent they both are of
any accusations and le peupl admirabl will listen, swallow everything
it is told with the passivity we only are capable of.
May Day is really the celebration of our genius in action. While in
some countries, workers are chased off the streets with tear gas, water
cannons and rubber bullets, on our little island, the workers, as well
as those who have never worked in their lives, will pour out of their
homes in large numbers and gear up for the free grub, booze and
picnic, brandishing the colour of the party which has bought their
sympathy in a power game all too familiar. Economic crisis, world
recession, infl ation, eroded purchasing power, Med Point, who cares
once one’s stomach has been rounded with a good helping of briani,
one’s senses have been numbed with beer and cheap rum and one’s
voice has become hoarse through shouting aboard the free buses
shuttling people around the island? Why worry about such insignifi –
cant things? One is grateful enough for the recreation.
Asking for May Day to be freed of politics and be given back
to the workers is asking too much. Asking workers to boycott May
Day and take advantage of the half price tariffs on cinemas and
attraction parks to spend quality time with their families is impractical
as most of the buses will be heading in only two directions.
Let’s at least ask for the workers’ day not to be used to take us for
fools. But even that is too much asking!

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l’express Weekly 20 April 2012

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on April 20, 2012

The good, the bad and the unjustifiable

Her outfit was unpretentious, her gait was on the diffi dent side
but her voice was pleasant and steady and her delivery of the
government programme honourable. It was a moment of
satisfaction for the women of this country. It was an instance
of pride for the country. The government programme Monique Ohsan
Bellepeau read was divided into three parts: the rehashed, the new and the
ambitious but, by and large, it offered a new ray of hope for the economy,
particularly through the Private Public Partnership.
The absence of the opposition looked ugly. The opposition is paid
to criticize whatever the government proposes and which it thinks might
be bad for the country. Instead, our opposition was too busy deciding
whether Eric Guimbeau should get one or two tickets and from whose
pool the tickets should come. And, instead of a better-late-than-never analysis
of the government programme, we are later served some so-called
revelations about the Med Point saga and a reiteration of the opposition’s
wish to urgently come to power.
There is no doubt that the people of this country are yearning
for change. A change which responds to the aspirations of Mauritian
youth. A change where we do not have to elect people at the helm of
this country simply because of their name but because of the ideology,
the programme and the competence they convince us that they have.
However, Mauritians are avid believers in our institutions and in the rule
of law. They would like to see change through the democratic process
which they have fought hard to get and preserve. And it is the strength
of our institutions and our democratic process which have maintained
the peace and harmony which have characterized this country. Anything
less than that would plunge us in a cycle of instability with the disastrous
economic consequences it will entail.
Of course we would like to know the truth about Med Point but we
would like to learn it through our courts of law. We are neither lawyers
nor magistrates nor is it our position to try people from our lounges listening
to allegations made on soap boxes. Pravind Jugnauth did sign the
cheque to his sister and brother-in-law at record speed, which he should
not have done if he was so opposed to the deal. He should have resigned
as a matter of principle. But he is innocent not because his father says
so – what father would say otherwise – but because he is so until proven
guilty, according to our laws. Anyone who has any information should put
it at the disposal of our courts and let them decide. The way things which
should be discussed in court are now used as a campaigning tool is ugly.
Navin Ramgoolam decided to leave the nation’s business behind to
go and reply to these allegations. We don’t know what he was intending
to say yesterday evening but saying anything at all is uncalled for. He was
elected to run this country. He should not step back onto the soap box
no matter what happens. The amount of energy he is spending on the
campaigning track is unjustifi able. Mauritians want to see some improvement
in their lives. That’s what he should be concentrating on. The power
game between the same self-serving protagonists accusing each other of
exactly the same things they are being accused of is of no interest to us.
And, frankly, we have had enough.

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l’express Weekly April 13 2012

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on April 13, 2012

The ‘roder bout’1 in the margoz’2 republic

It you want to know whether you live in a margoz republic
or not, the test is very simple: just look around you and try
to find out how many roder bout there are and how they go
about achieving their aims. And there really is no shortage of
them these days. They all seem to negotiate from very high moral
grounds but their motto is: “These are my principles. If you don’t
like them,….I’ll change them!” And they do change them with
such ease and even panache that you might forget that they ever
held any principles which were any different yesterday.
In the middle of this ocean of intellectual paucity and moral
bankruptcy, two people stand out for their sheer genius. One of
them is Rashid Meerun who probably takes the cake. The obtuse
reasons he gave for leaving his party to join the MSM immediately
after Sir Anerood Jugnauth’s resignation are a gem. They should
make an entry into our history books. He cleared his throat, looked
the journalists who bothered to ask him for the reasons behind a
decision which will change the fate of none of us straight in the
eye and came up with the following treat: “The structure of the
Labour Party is made of 215 executive members,” he said in a
highbrow analytical tone. “When nominations are made, (presumably
to the heads of parastatals and the diplomatic corps) they
are made outside this structure. So, what is the point of being
a member of the executive?” he philosophically asked. In other
words, you should choose what you believe in and what you do
according to the chances you have of being nominated to an important
position.
Mario Fabien and Antoine Cangy, who have also deserted the
Labour ship, have an even more hilarious reason. And like the
greatest discoveries, it just fell on them suddenly at the most unexpected
time: when they heard Anerood Jugnauth talk at the State
House, they suddenly realised he was telling the truth. Really? And
these are the people who were looking after our interests?
Then, of course, there is our dear friend Harish Boodhoo. Now, if
we said something about this highly susceptible gentleman, he might
take it personally. So, let us just clinically state the facts which everyone
knows while abstaining from any comment: he was the architect
of the Med Point alliance. He threw his weight fully behind its
structuring and spared no effort to make it work. Today, he suddenly
discovers that a remake of the same alliance would be a disaster for the
country. And he does not stop at voicing his opinion. He goes beyond
that to hosting Labour Party members in his own house presumably
to make sure that this same alliance which he blessed yesterday does
not see the light of day today. As we promised, no comment!
If you fi nd the quantity of margoz being served to you too
bitter and you are craving for some yoghurt relish, please be informed
that it is a rare dish in the margoz republic. Our tongues were
beginning to burn.

1. Roder bout: opportunist
2. Margoz: Bitter gourd

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l’express Weekly 6 March 2012

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on April 6, 2012

The Man of the Year

It’s a pity that December is not here yet. There would have been no
challenger to the leader of the opposition for the “Man of the Year”
title. His achievements this year have been astounding.
First, he waged a bitter war against the MSM, gradually tightening
the noose around the necks of two of its protagonists until his
strategy eventually paid off and the MSM resigned from government.
To prevent a drain towards the Labour Party (LP), he immediately
opened his arms to the once-hated MSM, got Pravind Jugnauth back
on his heels, then embraced him with all his might, declaring him the
best thing since sliced bread. Once the party stopped hemorrhaging
and only two turncoats left to join the LP, he decided that the leader
of the MSM was not good enough to share power with after all. As the
Labour Party started feeling good about itself and its potentates began
basking in arrogance again, he came out with the last card: Anerood
Jugnauth in a remake format!
In a few weeks, the government was split, Réduit was empty and available,
the most mediocre of MPs became a precious commodity, the PM
was on the back foot and Paul Bérenger was in the catbird seat!
Then we woke up to a new scenario: the MMM-SAJ alliance was perhaps
not to be after all. Suddenly, the resignation speech of the man with
the pitch black hair but shaking hands and wavering voice seemed so far
away. The words his eyes were glued to as he read the speech which had hit
so many chords seemed so distant and began to make way for the undeniable
feeling we all have: that there is something very sad about old age.
It is perhaps Nature’s way of telling us: “Time to hand over to the youth.”
We had predicted that for all the pomp and pageantry that kick-started
the announced MMM-MSM alliance, it would be under pressure
from day one. We were wrong. The writing was on the wall since day
zero. The proposed sharing of tickets equally between two parties, one of
which represents nearly half of the electorate and the other standing for
an insignifi cant 4% according to the most generous estimates, and accommodating
it for the municipal elections in which the MMM alone can
gulp up all the seats was not a happy thought for the MMM die-hards.
The disillusion appeared as soon as the euphoria subsided.
Today, Bérenger has all the cards. Anerood Jugnauth outside of Réduit
is a sweet grandfather to whom the nation is grateful for his past achievements.
Navin Ramgoolam is holding on to his majority by the skin of his
teeth. Pravind Jugnauth is up to his neck in the Med Point saga. Bérenger
therefore can continue his game of chess. All his options are open. So,
after blabbering about putting the government in minority for a few weeks,
Bérenger has declared loud and clear that the MMM will not engage in any
poaching and that they “do not want any turncoats.”
Whether this is a case of sour grapes, a side-kick to Navin Ramgoolam
or an attempt to put the blame for mercantile poaching squarely on the
back of the MSM, the fact remains that our democracy is perhaps saved.
Bérenger has unintentionally and through his various manoeuvres given
the country an opportunity to install some real democracy. One where
an electorate sick and tired of the pez néné bwar dilwil alliances can decide
which single party they are voting for. And for this, he deserves the title.

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