The democratic ballot box sent l’Alliance Lepep to power in December 2014.
Irrespective of whether l’Alliance Lepep led by SAJ capitalized on the mass rejection of the then Ramgoolam-Bérenger [alliance] instead of achieving mass adhesion to it on its own merit, or whether the mass chose SAJ and his team of many politically unknown figures and in the process rejected Ramgoolam particularly, is there any need for Ramgoolam, Bérenger, and Ganoo to cry over spilt milk? It is so easy to be wise after an event, when wisdom before an event, in politics also, is a sine qua non condition either, at best, for success, or, at worst, to avoid a crushing defeat.
The mea culpa of Ramgoolam, Bérenger, and Ganoo
At Kewal Nagar, Ramgoolam conceded he had politically faulted in many ways, and had not realized that he himself and the Labour Party had considerably “distanced” themselves from the electorate, particularly from their own electorate which they had hitherto taken for granted. But also he failed to realize that the traditional electorate of the Labour Party resented having Bérenger as PM for 5 years, and would migrate to the MSM which shared part of this electorate. As he additionally failed to realize that, having a mandate till May 2015, and a few months thereafter as caretaker PM, he ought to have completed this mandate which would have given him ample time to rethink his strategy for the General Election, without, however, any guarantee of electoral success, but providing to him opportunities for success.
He was most certainly and credulously blinded by a Labour Party-MMM alliance which, through his potted thinking, miscalculation, misjudgment, and arrogant overconfidence, gave him the illusion of a comfort and of an assurance of electoral success, which illusion, like the optical illusion of the rainbow, disappeared as rapidly as it appeared, and threw him off balance and into a desperate stance. And this desperate stance led him to pile political blunders over political blunders, criticizing the choice of Ameenah Gurib-Fakim as designated President of the Republic, stating that as President of the Republic he would himself be in command of the country, not Bérenger as Prime Minister, even going to the length of publicly stating that he had succeeded in having the blood of a shark, that is of Bérenger, thereby alienating completely the MMM activists and supporters from the Labour Party-MMM alliance, but without succeeding in rallying Labour Party electorate to him, while also considerably reducing the political “marge de manoeuvre” of Bérenger, greatly weakened by Ramgoolam’s politically inconsiderate and reckless blunders.
Riding on a self-acquired reputation as a political strategist, he had no strategy of success but rather a strategy of self-destruction. One wonders what role his purely political advisers played in his downfall […] If he continues to rely on, and have around him the same bunch of political advisers, more self-interested than genuinely interested in him and his cause, he will be doomed politically.
Notwithstanding this, the road to political recovery for him will be very, very long, and very arduous, as he also has to clear his name in the many court cases against him which have ruined his personal reputation though he is presumed to be innocent until and unless found and proved guilty. The only two chances for an accelerated political recovery for him will first and foremost, and on the one hand, be the clearing of his name and the court establishment of his innocence, and, on the other hand, blunders by the Government of l’Alliance Lepep and its inability to deliver all that it has promised, and to meet and satisfy the expectations of the people. But SAJ will surely see to it that no blunders are committed by his Government, and that his Government delivers all it has promised to a hopefully patient and industrious population.
SAJ will also ensure that when time comes for him to make his exit, there will be, at the helm of the affairs of the country, a smooth transition in continuity, without which the stability of his government might be in jeopardy thereby creating a political vacuum which doubtless will be expediently and successfully exploited by the true (and not the loyal) opposition represented by both the Labour Party and the MMM.
Bérenger also was initially confident in a large electoral victory of the Labour Party-MMM alliance, but such victory as days went by must really have become an illusion for him too, in the wake of the blunders of Ramgoolam driving MMM supporters and activists far away from this alliance, and provoking them to be dead against Ramgoolam, and resentful against Bérenger himself. He knew full well that Ramgoolam had become very unpopular, and yet, blinded by a 5-year primeministership for himself, and not expecting any “faux pas” from him, but anticipating electoral victory as a banker, he took the plunge without checking that there was enough water, and clean water at that, in the Labour Party’s swimming pool. He almost broke his political neck by taking such a plunge, having also greatly underestimated the political acumen of a fiery Ivan Collendavelloo whom he recklessly wrote off as any political threat to him. And Ivan Collendavelloo proved Bérenger grossly wrong by beating him to the first position in his own erstwhile stronghold constituency, and by getting all (but one of) the candidates of his ML, within l’Alliance Lepep, elected.
Bérenger was stuck with his MMM alliance with the Labour Party, not being in a position to fall back on any political alternative at the eleventh hour, and having to swallow all the bitter pills of Ramgoolam. Regaining his wisdom after the event of the thrashing of the Labour Party-MMM alliance, he was quick to make his mea culpa and to admit that he was wrong, and that he really went wrong in striking an alliance with a drowning Ramgoolam quite contented with having caught him as a political straw to put his head above water, thereby proving Ivan Collendavelloo, Eddy Boissezon, Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo, and Kee Chong Lee Kwon Wing right in having thoughtfully and wisely left the sinking MMM ship.
Besides, having all the time since 2010 been so adversely critical of Ramgoolam and of Ramgoolam’s government he lost a relatively high percentage of his own credibility by striking an alliance with that same Ramgoolam.
Like Ramgoolam, he underestimated the new political force that l’Alliance Lepep represented with SAJ as its supreme leader, while simultaneously failing to realize that the Mauritian electorate is really sophisticated, and really very much politically aware, alive, and discerning, as it was in December 2014. And this electorate is also ruthless: let us remind that it did not hesitate, for example, to cause the defeat in their stronghold constituencies of Razack Mohamed in the Plaine-Verte area, Jules Koenig in the Phoenix area, Sookdeo Bissoondoyal in the Rose-Belle area, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam in the Triolet area, Sir Anerood Jugnauth himself in the Rivière-du-Rempart area, and Navin Ramgoolam in the same Triolet area. It did not hesitate to cause Bérenger to only scrape through to 3rd position in the Stanley-Rose Hill area.
The politically positive aspect of Berenger’s mea culpa is that it has removed almost all the winds in the sails of Ivan Collendavelloo and his ML, as well as all the winds in the sails of Alan Ganoo and his MP. Migration from the MMM to either the ML or to the MP seems to have come to an end. And Bérenger is firmly back on his prevailing opposition feet, and playing his constitutional role as Leader of the Opposition as he has always done in this capacity: extremely well. And he retains a firm hold over his party, as Ramgoolam retains his firm hold on the Labour Party.
The real motivations of Alan Ganoo, one of the most faithful lieutenants of Bérenger not so long back, are not very clear. It is not thus clear what he aimed at achieving by trading responsibility, or rather irresponsibility, with Bérenger for the constant contacts with Ramgoolam with a view to striking the alliance Labour Party-MMM, and to facilitating electoral reforms leading to the establishment of a Second Republic with sharing of some powers between the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister. It is also not clear why Alan Ganoo placed all the blame on Bérenger for these contacts, while Bérenger taxed him with treachery. All this does not really explain the real reasons why Alan Ganoo and his MP colleagues, elected under the banner of MMM in the Labour Party-MMM alliance, left the MMM to create the MP. It stands to reason that Alan Ganoo, a seasoned politician, could not have been forced or been unwilling to “negotiate” with Ramgoolam. As it also stands to reason that the age-old hold of Bérenger on the MMM, and his known hot and dictatorial character in certain specific circumstances, could not have been a motivation for Alan Ganoo and his MP colleagues to have left the MMM some time after the General Election.
They did “experience” his hold and his hot and dictatorial character for so long, so that these cannot logically be their motivation for quitting. Given their “mot d’ordre” during the last Municipal Elections, it would appear that they cherish deep down and secretly the wish, no doubt sincere, of joining the government at the opportune time. And it would also appear that they might have been encouraged to nurse this wish, especially as the growing ambitions of Xavier Duval and his PMSD are an open secret. Open secret because Xavier Duval legitimately aims at making his party truly national and representative, and at recruiting from all communities throughout the length and breadth of the country, with Asraf Dulull, a former Labour Party Minister, being, according to Radio Plus, in the pipeline, and with Xavier Duval also, from inside sources, looking for a credible and respected Hindu recruit to reinforce the image of the PMSD.
Despite the public statement of Alan Ganoo that his MP is firmly in the Opposition, he must be biding his time to be operational at Government House. He is like a “king” in Constituency No. 14, and he is banking on his personal popularity in this constituency to make inroads in Government. However, he is not a match for Ivan Collendavelloo, nor is his MP a match for Ivan Collendavelloo’s ML. That he has left the MMM quite some time after the General Election rather for “personal reasons”, as against Ivan Collendavelloo who left the MMM before the General Election and on grounds of principles and sincere beliefs, does not speak in Alan Ganoo’s favour as a potential member of the present government. He may be used or even politically manipulated (as he was apparently manipulated by Bérenger if he is to be understood correctly), but he must accept that he will for quite some time to come be mistrusted. And that’s political life.
Politics remains for ever the art of the possible in Mauritius
In Mauritius, which has a very rich political folklore, what appears today to be politically impossible, becomes possible tomorrow. The Mauritian political chair is always there. Who knows today what music will be played tomorrow and who will compete to secure and sit on the last chair. Thus, a reuniting of the family of militants of MMM origin is not beyond the realms of possibilities in the future. In 1991, did not the MMM and the MSM reunite? Thus also, a new and fresh Labour Party-MMM alliance, or a Blue-White-Red alliance, or a mere MSM-ML alliance are not beyond the realms of possibilities. After all, all these parties know each other so well, having, at some point in time, been together. After all also, politics in Mauritius has always been, and will remain the art of the possible. And who knows whether in a not too distant future the “others”, that is today’s smaller parties, will not become credible and big, the electorate willing!