Touria Prayag's Blog

“The return of the undead”

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on December 29, 2012
Par:-  Touria Prayag
On 29/12/2012

We staggered through a year during which there was no room for boredom.

The political players played a pretty rough game over our heads in a flying zone characterized by constant turbulence.

Our national assembly initially looked more like a nice garden party where the majority, basking in the glow of victory, smiled at the opposition which, in anticipation of what might come, sat opposite asking nice I-will-embarrass you-not questions. The continuous sidekicks exchanged between two brothers who share a relationship of love and hate made one thing clear – how imperfect our democracy is.

Suddenly, in the middle of chewing the bare bones of the then-minister of finance – Pravind Jugnauth, the opposition happened upon a big, juicy steak which came to be baptised as the Med Point scandal. The slogan zot mem vender zot meme aster (they are the ones selling and buying) stirred the emotions of a nation otherwise characterized by its apathy. The ordinary citizen suddenly started to make the link between the money s/he works hard for, how it leaves his/her pockets to go into those of protected cronies.

As the opposition kept the pressure, the government, initially reluctant to anger its ally, had to refer the matter to the ICAC. The ally – Pravind Jugnauth’s MSM and his six ministers and MPs – first threatened to resign from government if it went ahead with the enquiry, then – in a unique move which came to be known as lev paké resté – resigned from government promising to stay loyal to it. This was followed by the divorce being formally pronounced.

In a strange and ironic twist of fate – or should I say opportunism – the leader of the opposition suddenly opened his arms to the person he criticised most – Pravind Jugnauth – and invited him to join hands with him in the opposition.

A strengthened opposition and a weakened government have led to baring an aspect of human nature we wish we didn’t have to discover. Some nondescript politicians we had never heard of put themselves up for auction to the highest bidder and another episode – more nasty this time – of courtship, started with the aim of attracting more suitors. Don’t you dare talk about ideology, loyalty or principles here. We all know what those are worth in politics.

As the government managed to reinforce its ranks with turncoats – the definition being absolutely anyone who is ready to rat and get handsomely rewarded for their disloyalty and – in a masterly stroke only he is capable of, Paul Bérenger managed to convince then-President of the Republic Anerood Jugnauth to resign from the state presidency. The spotlight then switched to the State House for the “Return of the Undead”. The press photographers and TV cameras zoomed in on an 82-year-old past president and past prime minister with jet black hair and shaking hands waltzing into the political arena vying for the post of prime minister again! Talk about a revolution and an anticipated general election started. By this time, the most insignificant MP started realizing the difference s/he could make through ratting on his/her party. A sad tale I will refrain from narrating.

The population at this point had little appetite for any more opportunism and double talk. Something they took the opportunity to show at the municipal elections by largely abstaining from voting. Those who did take the trouble to go and half-heartedly cast their vote sanctioned both the arrogance of power and the opportunism of the opposition, which managed to get away with a marginal victory; a victory made more marginal by Eric Guimbeau, an ally the opposition had sacrificed on the altar of the new alliance, commanding considerable support in one municipality and making the difference in an otherwise indifferent, predictably insipid election.

The year ended just as it had begun.

The two brothers teasing each other, this time about their private lives in a language denoting once more the I will- hurt-you-not attitude. Except that the language this time was unparliamentary, unbecoming and at times indecent. Pity the Mayans got it wrong.

All the signs were there.

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Choosing between arrogance and opportunism

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on December 23, 2012

The nation has spoken and its words were crystal clear: “We don’t give two hoots about the municipal elections!” Which part of that do the government and the opposition not understand? Is it the way the citizens shook the government out of its complacency without supporting the opposition? Here’s a healthy dose of downbeat realism. The apathy and lack of interest of the citizens of this country could be attributed to the fact that they are becoming sick and tired of the arrogance of power and the opportunism of the opposition. It could also be interpreted as people jaded with candidates’ self interest and their feeling that no one deserved their votes enough to trouble their peaceful Sunday. And it could also be the indigestion due to the diet of dissatisfaction which has been served to our people for years. Instead of the government doing its mea culpa and seeing that the arrogance of our leaders, compounded by the even-less-justifi ed arrogance of some of their cronies who rose from nothing to still nothing due to political patronage, is beginning to weigh on the hearts and minds of the citizens; instead of looking at the fortress of conceit which has slowly but surely built up around the seat of power isolating it from the people who bestowed that very power upon it; instead of revisiting some nominations where those making them have really scraped the barrel, those holding the levers of power are looking instead at the few numbers representing less than half of the city dwellers who bothered to leave the comfort of their homes to go and half-heartedly vote. As for the opposition, their smugness is absolutely disconcerting. In an election where more than half the citizens told them literally to “go next door, see if I am there”, in spite of the various calls of the Leader of the Opposition, they still fi nd a way to thump their chest about an outcome where nobody won hands down; where a few – very few – votes made a difference in a world of indifference. Instead of the Leader of the Opposition sitting down with the thinking brains of his party and asking how much credibility they are going to trade against opportunism, he persists and looks us straight in the eye and tell us that this ‘victory’ is going to trigger an early general election! Really? Again? How, pray tell, is such an innocuous election which is a clear message of apathy, an indication that people are going to start a revolution in this country and vote the – oh-so-powerful and oh-so-credible – opposition in? What saddens me is the way both blocs take us for some brainless creatures. Don’t believe what they are saying, whatever you do. As one side is thumping its chest about their ‘victory’ and the other is qualifying this victory, behind the scenes, the ethnic calculators must be working full blast. Each major party must be thinking about the contribution of its smaller partner. The PMSD in Quatre Bornes and the MSM in Vacoas. Remember, apart from Beau Bassin/Rose Hill, where the purple hardly ever fades, the biggest gap between the two alliances has been recorded in, ironically, Vacoas! Eleven against seven! (Compare that to 13-11 in Port Louis, 7-8 in Quatre Bornes and 7-7 in Curepipe.) If you and I know the implications of that, do you think the Leader of the Opposition doesn’t. So, is it really the end of the koze-kozé (chatting) between the MMM and the Labour Party? I wouldn’t advise you to put your money on it. I certainly wouldn’t put a penny down. p>Touria Prayag
On 15/12/2012

The nation has spoken and its words were crystal clear: “We don’t give two hoots about the municipal elections!” Which part of that do the government and the opposition not understand? Is it the way the citizens shook the government out of its complacency without supporting the opposition?

Here’s a healthy dose of downbeat realism. The apathy and lack of interest of the citizens of this country could be attributed to the fact that they are becoming sick and tired of the arrogance of power and the opportunism of the opposition. It could also be interpreted as people jaded with candidates’ self interest and their feeling that no one deserved their votes enough to trouble their peaceful Sunday. And it could also be the indigestion due to the diet of dissatisfaction which has been served to our people for years.

Instead of the government doing its mea culpa and seeing that the arrogance of our leaders, compounded by the even-less-justifi ed arrogance of some of their cronies who rose from nothing to still nothing due to political patronage, is beginning to weigh on the hearts and minds of the citizens; instead of looking at the fortress of conceit which has slowly but surely built up around the seat of power isolating it from the people who bestowed that very power upon it; instead of revisiting some nominations where those making them have really scraped the barrel, those holding the levers of power are looking instead at the few numbers representing less than half of the city dwellers who bothered to leave the comfort of their homes to go and half-heartedly vote.

As for the opposition, their smugness is absolutely disconcerting. In an election where more than half the citizens told them literally to “go next door, see if I am there”, in spite of the various calls of the Leader of the Opposition, they still fi nd a way to thump their chest about an outcome where nobody won hands down; where a few – very few – votes made a difference in a world of indifference. Instead of the Leader of the Opposition sitting down with the thinking brains of his party and asking how much credibility they are going to trade against opportunism, he persists and looks us straight in the eye and tell us that this ‘victory’ is going to trigger an early general election! Really? Again? How, pray tell, is such an innocuous election which is a clear message of apathy, an indication that people are going to start a revolution in this country and vote the – oh-so-powerful and oh-so-credible – opposition in?

What saddens me is the way both blocs take us for some brainless creatures. Don’t believe what they are saying, whatever you do. As one side is thumping its chest about their ‘victory’ and the other is qualifying this victory, behind the scenes, the ethnic calculators must be working full blast. Each major party must be thinking about the contribution of its smaller partner. The PMSD in Quatre Bornes and the MSM in Vacoas. Remember, apart from Beau Bassin/Rose Hill, where the purple hardly ever fades, the biggest gap between the two alliances has been recorded in, ironically, Vacoas! Eleven against seven! (Compare that to 13-11 in Port Louis, 7-8 in Quatre Bornes and 7-7 in Curepipe.) If you and I know the implications of that, do you think the Leader of the Opposition doesn’t. So, is it really the end of the koze-kozé (chatting) between the MMM and the Labour Party? I wouldn’t advise you to put your money on it. I certainly wouldn’t put a penny down.

Next Apocalypse, please

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on December 23, 2012
Touria Prayag

Alright, the Armageddon didn’t come and the earth has not been reduced to a burned-out cinder despite the doomsday promulgators. Your date with Destiny has not come yet and you have just found out that not a single prediction basks in the warm glow of reality. Welcome to the Mayan Apocalypsenotnow!

Now that you are out of hiding, here’s the scoop: – cue the spooky music– nothing has changed around you. While you had your head buried in the sand in fear of what might happen – which frankly is a better use of your time – here’s what you may have missed: Eric Guimbeau has managed to elect one mayor in Curepipe and the Port Louis bazaar has become a much safer place for your children to be within earshot from than our august national assembly.

On a scale of one to 10, one being the worst in opportunism, lack of ethics and moral bankruptcy, Eric Guimbeau’s score has not been disastrous – everything being relative of course. He does not rate with Jim Seetaram (five out of 10) who took what came his way and quietly stayed on the majority benches. He is nowhere near Mireille Martin (three out of 10 – this is the season where generosity is recommended) who first complained of persistent harassment, threatened to go to the police, negotiated for a better position within the MSM to increase her bargaining power before deciding to side with the alleged ‘harassers’. And let’s not talk about the one (ungraded) who only joined politics to save this country (yes, you have guessed – Pratibha Bholah) and who, after repeatedly reiterating her loyalty to her party and talking about her strong principles, suddenly decided to change sides because she “would not be re-elected otherwise”. In that sense, Guimbeau, while his feet and legs may have dipped in murky waters, has been able to keep his head and shoulders above water. His decision to side with the Labour Party to have his candidate at the head of the Curepipe municipality is opportunistic but understandable.
Here’s a guy who – like Ashok Jugnauth – got discarded like old socks, without a second thought, as soon as talk about the remake started. The MMM thought that with Anerood Jugnauth at the head of the remake, they were going to provoke a general election and many defections from the ranks of the majority and did not need to burden themselves with someone pretentious enough to ask for two tickets. He took it on the chin and held his head high. And he didn’t have to wait for long before his lucky star shone, giving him the opportunity to make a difference. And he rubbed it in by joining the majority.
In parliament, however, the municipalities are a distant memory. Hours are now spent talking about Mrs. Nandenee, a Labour activist whose photo was taken by an MSM agent. That people are entitled to their privacy in all circumstances is a principle guaranteed by law and should not be compromised. That the act of taking someone’s photo without their permission is inelegant and even indecent is something we can agree upon. However, the hype made around this case by the police – who should have much more serious priorities – and our parliamentarians, is difficult to understand. As for the language used by our honourable members in connection with this case, no comment. Perhaps it is better to go back into hiding and wait for the next Mayan predictions. A much more decent activity.