Touria Prayag's Blog

The odd couple 17 October 2013

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on January 23, 2015

Paul Bérenger has recovered from cancer. A near-miracle for which we are grateful to God. Now we pray
for a real miracle: that he recovers his stature and leads an effective opposition offering a real alternative
to the citizens of this country.
The view from here is that, as the faint smell of elections is getting gradually stronger, so is the irrelevance
of the opposition. We are not talking herea bout the Remake – something which is sinking the MMM into
even more irrelevance as it juggles with all the past mistakes, scandals and stained reputation of those it
chose to associate with. We are talking about a democratically-run MMM with a strong infl uence of its
youth wing, led by a man who has come back to fi ght. The MMM of yesteryears, that is. What we have
today is a party which is a shadow of its former self, with no ideology – let alone a clear one – manifestly
cut off from its youth and living in a world of its own. We have a party which has forgotten about democracy
within its own ranks. The political bureau elections have been postponed so many times that no one thinks
that they will ever take place. Those who are hurt by this and other decisions and non-decisions are not
allowed to scream any more. The think tank within the party now keeps its thoughts to itself. The party
ideology? You heard it from the horse’s mouth the other day: “We have to strike a balance between principles
and getting into power.” Really? This, from the party whose leader fought and was jailed for principles and
thus built resilience and grit. Shame.
Now, when it comes to the issues being raised these days, the less said the better. Every week, we are served
one ‘scandal’ in the same way some TV viewers are served an episode of their best soap. The ‘scandal’
disappears as soon as the realisation dawns upon Paul Bérenger that he – but more often his ally – is guilty
of the same thing. Then we move on to another one while waiting for the next.
Then non-issues start becoming hot-button issues, distracting from real ones. First Bérenger starts
clambering aboard the ID card bandwagon – as being against the ID has become something to tout – before
he moves on to another non-issue. The Asset Recovery Act, which he was waxing lyrical about yesterday
suddenly – and for the reasons which our colleague Jean-Mée Desvaux made clear in his opinion piece on
October 7 – becomes the biggest threat to our democracy. When this issue went nowhere and it became
obvious that it was headed nowhere, a new debate started about voting at the age of 16! That is, our youth
should be given the right to choose between an 84-year old, a 68-year old and a 66-year old! What a great
privilege. I am sure thousands of school kids will be queuing up for this treat!
The upcoming budget? Who cares what Ali Mansoor left marinating or what the newly-hired Chef Manraj
is cooking for us? Monetary and fi scal policy? Youth unemployment, the state of our economy…? Who is
interested in these when we can talk about – please don’t laugh – China and Democracy, Socialism Today
and other such preposterous topics?
Is the man badly advised? We prefer to believe that. It is kinder on him.

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