Dear God

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“Dear God, if you do exist, please stop people from voting for Dulthumun (insert explicit word here – Ed) again! Anyone but him please!”

This Facebook post was shared by a famous Facebook user on the eve of the election of the Mauritius Sanatan Dharma Temples Federation. And a surprisingly incredible number of people joined in the prayer for the defeat of Somduth Dulthumun – the association’s president for the last 15 years. 

They must have prayed very hard because, the next day, their prayers were answered and there followed an explosion of relief almost comparable to the euphoria felt after a general election. 

While the prayers were going on full blast, members of  government, from MPs to the Prime Minister’s Office, were busy campaigning and canvassing for the election of the one person everyone wanted out. Nothing was left to chance: door-to-door visits, meetings at the highest levels, voting instructions… You name it, they tried it.  But the prayers were more powerful. And so were the jubilations that followed. For such a benign, almost meaningless, election which will not change anyone’s life? Why?

Up until now, most people have shown little interest in those at the head of sociocultural organisations. They didn’t care when, every four years or so, one self-serving, opportunistic lot is replaced by another – almost invariably close to the government. That is no longer the case.

Three weeks earlier, the Arya Ravived Pracharini Sabha election yielded results similar to the Dulthumum episode: the pro-government group, which benefitted from an aggressive campaign run by government MPs, was routed out. 

And this trend is not restricted to Hindu organisations. Five months ago, Salim Timol, was ousted from the helm of the Sunee Surtee Mussulman Society. Timol was one of Pravind Jugnauth’s closest allies who made no secret of “having good relations with the government”. And he was handsomely rewarded for that. On top of two juicy nominations on the NIC and Heritage City boards, he also saw all his worries come to an end. In an article published in Sunday Times, he even bragged about that: “BAI and Courts was (Sic) a big issue for me. But thks (Sic) God, I got paid in full from both company. (Sic)” Others of course were not so lucky.

As government protégés start falling one after the other to the elation of a large section of the population, it is legitimate to ask a few questions: Could the passions expressed at their defeat be seen as the defeat of what the men stand for? Everything that the Mauritian society hates, namely the worst type of opportunism possible. You will recall that Dulthumun, for example, after benefitting from the grace of former Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam for over 10 years, suddenly and unashamedly switched sides and started waxing lyrical about the new rulers and became the Jugnauth’s best PR agent. Timol was not far behind. Are our socio-cultural organisations beginning to sanction the opportunism of those using their position for personal benefit at the expense of the wider wish of the population?

Or is it the government’s arrogance, inefficiency, amateurism and nepotism that are being sanctioned? Or both?

Or are these successive defeats perhaps God’s way of telling Pravind Jugnauth what his close allies have been refusing to tell him: That it’s time he started praying. Praying very hard for a miracle! 

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