The Dulloo dilemma

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It’s a weird proposal. Dulloo does not really believe it. Paul Bérenger does not really believe it. The MMM as a party does not really believe it. This week saw reports coming out of the MMM that it was considering splitting the prime ministership between Madan Dulloo and Paul Bérenger should the party go alone into the next election. On the face of it, it’s a ridiculous proposition.

First, because it assumes that the MMM will contest the next election alone. It’s never happened since its bitter experience in 1976 when it was kept out of power when everybody clubbed together into a rickety alliance. In 2010 too, the MMM was kept out in the same way. Bitten twice, the disastrous coalition with the Labour Party was subsequently explained by the party as a bid to keep the MMM from being isolated and beaten again. So as far as elections go, the MMM, like every other party, knows that it cannot win without allies. More likely the reports are like trial balloons let loose by the party to signal to the MSM that a shared prime ministership (like between 2000-2005) is what the party is currently envisaging. 

Secondly, the choice of Dulloo itself points towards that conclusion. The one consistent thread throughout Madan Dulloo’s long and varied career has been his attempts at smoothing over relations between the MMM and the MSM and plumping for an alliance between the two. In 1982, he attempted to unsuccessfully paper over differences between the MMM and the MSM, even going to the extent of rejecting a deputy prime ministership in favour of Ramduth Juddoo. Later in 1993, when the MSM attempted to up the ante against the MMM by encouraging Prem Nababsing and his followers (which would eventually become the short-lived RMM) to dethrone Bérenger and keep the MMM in its orbit, Dulloo (aside from Sheila Bapoo) was the lone voice uneasy over this escalation. And after Dulloo was expelled from the MSM in 1994, following clashing with Anerood Jugnauth over the closing of the St. Antoine sugar estate, the 1995 defeat of the MSM and the subsequent breakup of the Labour-MMM government in 1997, he was used as a lever in alliance talks between the MMM and the MSM. The MMM dangled the possibility of going into the 2000 election with Bérenger as prime minister and Dulloo as deputy prime minister. Of course nothing came of that and, instead, the MMM and the MSM came together, and the offer to Dulloo of the deputy prime ministership was forgotten in favour of a snazzier sharing of the PMO between the two parties. So this is not the first time that Dulloo’s name has been put forward in connection to high office as a bargaining chip. Unfortunately, that’s all it’s been. But given Dulloo’s clear, long standing preference for an MMM-MSM alliance – both of which he has been a member – it has also made him suspect in the eyes of the MMM’s small, but vocal, ‘going-it-alone’ crowd.

That’s why few take this latest test balloon floated by the MMM all that seriously. They know it’s a bit of scuttlebutt to get the MSM’s attention and advertise the MMM’s bride price.

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