Teeluckdharry’s gambit

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The former deputy speaker of the National Assembly, Sanjeev Teeluckdharry, has declared war on Paul Lam Shang Leen. He accuses the former Supreme Court judge of being biased towards the Labour Party, briefly raised the prospect of a judicial review of the Lam Shang Leen Commission Report and is now asking the Supreme Court to block payment for the commission. A rather ridiculous demand since, if everybody named in a commission report could reduce the commission into penury, commissions would cease to function. At this point, Teeluckdharry’s sole aim seems to be to sling as much mud at Lam Shang Leen hoping that something would stick and allow Teeluckdharry enough wiggle room to salvage his reputation that was dealt a heavy blow, and his all-too-brief political career brought to a screeching halt, by Lam Shang Leen’s report. In Teeluckdharry’s calculus, political survival trumps all else.

But Teeluckdharry alone is not to blame for going off the rails. The ultimate blame, rather, lies on the shoulders of the government itself and its obvious weakness. Recently, the government seems to have swallowed much from its own members: Showkutally Soodhun undermining his own party’s front-bencher Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo, Sudhir Sesungkur implicated in assaulting a photographer and continuing his feud with his predecessor, Roshi Bhadain. In none of these cases has the government asked any of them to resign from parliament (and seems to have done much at all, really) out of fear that another by-election would be another nail in the government’s coffin. And so Teeluckdharry knows that he can go as far as he wants since it is highly unlikely that he has anything more to lose. When the centre itself cannot hold, it’s inevitable that the satellites will spin out of control.

The matter does not stop merely at the government’s weakness. The prime minister, Pravind Jugnauth, himself has done much to undermine the Commission Report.  In the schizophrenic message coming out of the Prime Minister’s Office, on the one hand Jugnauth wants to reap the political credit for setting up the commission and has signalled his pleasure with Lam Shang Leen by giving the former judge another job, hunting the 16kilos of drugs that went missing from police custody. On the other hand, however, the very same Jugnauth is praising the ADSU to the skies, insisting that they are doing an excellent job. That undermines the key proposal (in truth, the only real proposal) contained in the report which slammed the ADSU for not working properly and calling for scrapping it, with drug cases being given to the judiciary — through a National Drugs Investigation Commission — instead. By sticking up for the ADSU, Jugnauth is being careful not to offend the police — policemen and their families count for a lot of votes, even if it means undermining the Commission Report that he is so eager to extract political capital out of. What this means is that it would look a tad strange that in the midst of undermining the Commission Report himself, Jugnauth should accuse Teeluckdharry of doing the very same thing. What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander. And if the government is not hesitating to throw Lam Shang Leen and his report under the bus for its own survival, why should Teeluckdharry be expected to show more scruples?

By putting himself first, Teeluckdharry is just proving what a good student he has been in his own brief pupillage at the Sun Trust.

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