Nothing is ever as it seems in politics. Navin Ramgoolam and Paul Bérenger are at each other’s throats? It can only mean one thing: they’re paving the way for a Labour-MMM coalition. You think that sounds unlikely? Think again. It might not happen now, it might not happen tomorrow but it will happen. So strap yourselves in, the rollercoaster ride of the past few months will look trifling in comparison to what lies ahead.
A little over a year ago, the prime minister announced, to the astonishment of everyone (his party included) that he was giving 18 tickets to the minority partner in the newly formed Labour-MSM coalition. The declaration was widely met with disbelief: how was it that a party that found itself in such a position of strength after five convincing years in power could suddenly demonstrate such generosity towards a relative minnow? Save a handful of people, nobody knew the answer to this elusive question.
As a result, pundits were at a loss to decide whether the decision was a master coup or a massive miscalculation. After all, Ramgoolam is renowned as much for his tactical acumen as for his extreme caution. He would never have entered into such an alliance without having lengthily weighed all pros and cons, without having considered its every aspect down to the minutest detail. Yet, this affair bore all the marks of a shotgun wedding. Be that as it may, the coalition easily won the elections, thereby momentarily vindicating Ramgoolam’s odd choice.
That was the easy part. The job of actually running the country together, however, had only just begun. In line with the18-ticket anomaly, the MSM received many of the most important ministries on a silver platter. Buoyed by the ecstasy of victory, the Labour malcontents initially kept their disgruntlement to themselves but soon the coalition began showing signs of wear and tear. And then the Medpoint scandal blew up in everyone’s faces, forcing even the prime minister’s most loyal servants to recognise that the MSM is political kryptonite.
And Navin Ramgoolam May Day comments indicate that he’s begun envisaging alternatives. In the same way football players invariably say how happy they are at the club they’re about to leave, so too do politicians reiterate their trust in their allies just before giving them the kiss of death. Remember the Sithanen soap opera? Great work Rama, now get the hell out of here. The leader of the Opposition’s recent affirmation that the coalition is not cracking up also provides food for thought. Ramgoolam himself has remarked in the past that Bérenger always says the opposite of what he really thinks.
The most compelling piece of evidence, though, is that the coalition looks spent already and the chances of it lasting four long years are very slim, not to say infinitesimal. And because Ramgoolam will not want to govern in a position of weakness once he’s jilted the MSM (after having neutralised whatever secret weapon SAJ possesses), he will make a pass at the MMM. Needless to say, Bérenger’s been waiting his whole life for this. And the gods of democracy will weep, once again.