Missteps and Alliances

Mr Ravi Yerrigadoo’s continuation in office would have been politically untenable after the much publicised affidavit sworn by Mr Husein Abdool Rahim

Mr Ravi Yerrigadoo’s continuation in office as the Government’s principal legal adviser would have been politically untenable after the much publicised affidavit sworn by Mr Husein Abdool Rahim pertaining to allegations about the former Attorney General’s involvement in illicit activities had been directed to various investigative agencies, namely the police, ICAC and the FIU, for inquiry. Mounting public pressure since last Monday for the removal of the former Attorney General, fuelled by a daily trickle of new and what appears to be damning evidences, as publicised in the print media and on various social media platforms, would eventually have had the better of party fire-fighters.

The initial timid and almost unconvincing defence in support of Mr Yerrigadoo put up by the otherwise voluble government main spokesperson, Mr Sinatambou, and another Cabinet colleague Mr Sawmynaden in a daily last Tuesday bears testimony to the fact that the government had been taken unawares, and was at a loss about how to salvage the situation and avoid further embarrassment to itself. Sound political judgement has however prevailed, and the Prime Minister announced Wednesday afternoon his decision to ask Mr Yerrigadoo to step down pending the conclusion of the inquiry to investigate the allegations levelled in Mr Rahim’s affidavit.

We have to remember that Mr Yerrigadoo is presumed innocent until proved guilty by a court of law. However, the details published in the press pertaining to his alleged involvement in illicit activities with probably shady individuals, one of whom has admitted to an act of swindling, look sufficiently serious as to cast a long shadow over his political career. He has publicly stated his confidence to clear his name. It is doubtful, though, whether that can be achieved before the next elections given the complexity of the case and apparently its other ramifications that would be forthcoming and publicised in due course. But that would be best left to an impartial and independent inquiry, as guaranteed by the Prime Minister during his press statement, and for the judiciary to determine.

What is bewildering however is the ease with which some members of the present government alliance, and not the least, have consistently and almost cavalierly caused embarrassment to the government and amplified the so many blunders committed during the first two years of its mandate. It comes as no surprise that the MSM-ML government may not wish to contest the forthcoming by-election in Constituency No 18 (?) which it might possibly lose, given its track record so far. It would not want to negotiate from a position of weakness, and losing in the by-election would only add to the MSM’s difficulty of extracting a reasonable and acceptable electoral deal from, in all likelihood, the MMM, which clearly carries more electoral weight than its current ally the ML.

The signs are there for all to see: the MMM leader’s initial silence over the La Butte and Residence Barkly incidents where bulldozers were called in to raze down squatters’ dwellings and his measured response – almost like one from a “loyal and sincere opposition” — a week later to condemn the “politicisation” of the incidents, and his non-response over the allegations levelled against the former Attorney General Yerrigadoo, choosing instead to wait and see as matters unfold.

The MSM has reciprocated, and we learn from a daily that the ministerial committee, presided by Minister Mentor Sir Anerood Jugnauth, set up to look into electoral reform proposals has Monday examined details relating to electoral financing, the strengthening of the powers of the Electoral Supervisory Commission – and the last but certainly not the least, proposals for the introduction of Proportional Representation (PR) into our electoral system. PR is anathema to the political culture and mores of the MSM, especially of its leader, SAJ. Till now he has not budged an iota from his conviction on this issue, namely: staunch opposition based on a principled stand dating back to his early days in politics. He is the only remaining veteran of the old guard which stood up against the introduction of PR, and gained respect in so doing. If PR were to come under his watch that would indeed be a major departure from his avowed principle. That is surely not to accommodate his current political ally, the ML of Ivan Collendavelloo. No, he has set his sights elsewhere.

Mr Bérenger has been sufficiently shaken with his electorate’s response to his December 2017 alliance with the Labour Party of Navin Ramgoolam that he is not keen to again face the wrath of the hard core ‘militants’ of his electorate. He will need to extract major concessions from a weakened MSM for him to be able to sell the deal to the rank and file. How far the MSM would in desperation of a saving grace be willing to concede remains to be seen.

 

  • Published in print edition on 15 September 2017
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