LALIT held an assembly of members and supporting members on Sunday 16 July at GRNW so as to review the political situation as the by-election in Belle Rose and Quatre Bornes gets underway after the resignation of Roshi Bhadain, and to begin discussing LALIT’s mode of participation.
Here are some of the main elements that came up. The by-election may well, as has happened twice since Independence, never take place but instead be interrupted by the declaration of General Elections, that then subsume it. The by-election can be as late as February, and if General Elections are only declared late in the campaign, it will then be towards the end of the Lepep Government’s mandate. People from different constituencies remarked on two signs: there is tarring of streets going on at night in numerous places, and hand-rails for pedestrians are lining village and town streets rather rapidly. In some constituencies Government Ministers and MPs have started appearing after two years of near total absence.
But the Bye-Election campaign continues, and has to continue. Members counted up eight different parties that have aligned candidates:
Labour, Arvind Boolell
MMM, Nita Jaddoo
PMSD, Danesh Maray
Reform Party, Roshi Bhadain
FCM, Cehl Meeah
Les Verts, Cindy Antonio
Rezistans ek Alternativ, Kuggan Parapen
Ralliement Citoyen pour la Patrie, Alexandres Barbes-Pougnet
In addition, Nita Jadoo’s uncle, Pramod Jaddoo will stand as an Independent candidate. The Alan Ganoo party, Mouvement Patriotique is still holding out for the mirage of a single opposition candidate. While the first four parties are the mainstream bourgeois parties that only speak against capitalism during campaigns, the next four need some clarification. Cehl Meeah’s is a fundamentalist outfit, Les Verts is a working class but communal party, RA’s candidate says they are not against the capitalist system, while the RCP leaders have criticized Labour, the MMM and MSM for being too much in favour of socialism and welfare state rights. So, the choice, though apparently wide, is very narrow. And with the MSM-ML alliance hinting that they may not put up a candidate at all, there will be the sorry spectacle of an unpopular Government managing to cause eight opposition parties to campaign against, not it, but each other. These parties find themselves in one of those situations where they cannot happily be in the election or not in it. It’s a “lose-lose” in the short run. In the medium term, they will be jockeying for alliances and for a good place for the next general elections.
Nor are the issues clear. Bhadain has variously put his resignation down to not wanting to have the Metro Express go through Quatre Bornes, to not agreeing that Aneerood Jugnauth step down as Prime Minister and let his son, Pravind, take over. Those are hardly national-level issues. The MMM and PMSD have both very little programmatic divergence from the present Government, and the Labour Party has only its “democratization of the economy”, which means favouring smaller “big capitalists” against bigger ones, or at least pretending to.
So, LALIT will not take its decision yet.
Chagos and Diego Garcia
We discussed the change after the 94-15 vote against the UK-USA imperialists at the United Nations General Assembly in the Resolution originally sponsored by Mauritius, but then greatly re-enforced by being presented by a unified African union. So, the issue has finally, as LALIT has been struggling for, been sent to the International Court of Justice at The Hague to give an opinion on the legality of the British actions in the division of a colony (Mauritius) by the excision of part of its territory (Chagos including Diego Garcia) as a condition for Independence, and the banishing of all Mauritians, including those from Chagos.
The Land Question
Then we turned to the land question, and discussed the coming neighbourhood meeting campaign, as it broadens. The main question is the democratic use of land – to organize production of agricultural produce, its transformation and allied industries, so as to create all manner of permanent employment, and to open up land for housing for all, as well as keeping food security ensured. This means opposing the most powerful sections of the bourgeoisie that are now in real estate, selling off sugar-cane land to millionaires from abroad with Government sponsorship, and betting on land values.