The leader of the opposition half-jokingly swatted away the protests of some of his supporters with the line he will continue to use to wrench a serious commitment from the prime minister towards the proposed electoral and constitutional reforms: “There is deep suspicion of Navin Ramgoolam.” That may very well be true for some. For most, however, the resentment against Bérenger’s latest move has nothing to do with either Ramgoolam or Jugnauth. It is simply one stunt too many for them to stomach.
Rewind: 2010 : The Alliance de l’Avenir (Labour Party/MSM/ PMSD) is in government. Pravind Jugnauth was facing tremendous heat from Bérenger as the latter was hell-bent on breaking the government alliance, getting rid of the MSM and jumping into Navin Ramgooolam’s arms.
January 2011: After chewing at Jugnauth’s bare bones for weeks, the opposition happened upon a nice juicy steak – Med Point – which they baptised ‘the scandal of the century’. The game then heated up with the famous ‘zot meme aster, zot meme vender’ slogan and a ferocious sustained campaign which finally led to the MSM stepping down in July 2011. In August 2011, its six members left the government.
October 2011 (barely TWO months later): After having vilified the leader of the MSM for so long, ― voilà! ― there is a 180-degree-turn. Bérenger worked very hard to convince his people that the ‘scandal of the century’ wasn’t one after all and that Jugnauth was not a crook but a nice guy in fact. It was the government which had accused him unjustly. The institutions of this country came under attack, including recently the office of the DPP for having called Pravind Jugnauth to face the courts of justice.
April 2012: (Only five months later) Bérenger had managed a feat no one thought he was capable of: he convinced the militants that everything he had said about the Jugnauths, the money, the Med Point, the Sun Trust… was false. And the remake took off.
Between 2012 and today, Bérenger worked so hard at white-washing the Jugnauths and vilifying the government that he built up a lot of steam against Ramgoolam whom he made to incarnate all the evils this country suffers from. He whipped up such a frenzy that the militants – initially astounded at having to give away 50% of the investitures to a party which they reckon is worth less than 2% of what they themselves are worth – accepted the deal with a three-year prime ministership as the cherry on the cake. As they started resigning themselves to the idea ― revoilà! ― another U-turn.
How Bérenger achieves all his U-turns is very simple: he is an incredible orator, he has amazingly convincing skills and the unconditional admiration of his supporters. He also, let’s face it, has an excellent relationship with the press.
At every U-turn, however, he is gradually sawing the branch he is sitting on. This last U-turn was one U-turn too many. The branch has reached breaking point.
But then again this is Bérenger we are talking about. If the past is anything to go by, we may hear tomorrow that he is no longer “emmerdé” with Jugnauth, that the delaying tactics are no longer delaying tactics and that Pravind Jugnauth is not behaving like a cornered rat but rather like a man facing unjust accusations and our institutions will come under attack again. In the U-turn empire, who would be surprised if the U-turn emperor takes yet another U-turn?