An epitaph for the opposition

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Whenever someone turns his/her back on power, money and privileges and walks the other way for a principle – whatever that principle may be – s/he has my utmost respect and admiration. This is particularly true in these days when chatwas are tripping over themselves to join the long queue of bootlickers who are prepared to stoop so low in the hope of having some crumbs thrown at them. In that sense, I reiterate my respect for Nando Bodha, who at some point in his career, decided that there was a red line he was not prepared to cross. 

Let’s overlook here the fact that Bodha didn’t walk away from power only because of guilt pangs at what his party was doing. He obviously had a well calculated, ambitious plan, which, let’s face it, he is entitled to have. 

That plan was buried this week during the commemoration of Kristen’s murder. And with it perhaps the ambition of many of having Bodha lead the opposition to victory. The opposition is well aware of that and is going through the normal grieving process in any loss. It always starts with denial before reality hits. 

The signs of trouble started appearing soon after Bodha’s resignation from a party he had spent more than three decades serving. It was during his first outing for a prayer at Grand Bassin. Far from the hero welcome he received from part of the opposition and far from even the mitigated, lukewarm reaction of the other part, Bodha’s first outing as a ‘free man’ was met with such utter hostility that the police had to intervene to calm things down. Shelved as an isolated incident, this cloud was overshadowed by the hope of bigger things to come: his colleagues in parliament flocking to join him on the opposition benches.

Then Bodha set up his own party – what is it called again? – and presented its new members to the public. There’s a handsome monetary reward for anyone who can name one of them offhand. No cheating, please! Then a series of resignations from the MMM followed. Admittedly, many of these are known migrant politicians or notorious new opportunists. But that is not quite the point here. 

The activities surrounding the one-year commemoration of Kistnen’s death brought into focus the malaise that had started setting in due to unmet expectations and shattered hopes. First, Bruneau Laurette of Linion Sitwayin – I remember this one – declared his intention not to join the protest. For a specialist in the field, that was hard. He did, however, express his solidarity with Rama Valayden, the Avengers and the cause they are championing but stated that he would not walk side by side with someone – read Nando Bodha – who was happily sitting in government when Kistnen’s murder took place. Then Rezistans ek Alternativ followed suit with a similar, unambiguous message. Some opposition lawyers – like Akil Bissessur – wrote to Rama Valayden expressing their solidarity with the protest the Avengers were organising and offering their services pro bono in case any of the protesters was arrested. But they excused themselves from participating in the activities...because of Bodha! Valayden immediately found himself in a firefighting position. 

What does all this mean for an already divided opposition? Nothing good, I am afraid. A thank-you note from the MSM to Nando Bodha is well overdue. Before his exit from government, there was a united opposition gathered under the entente umbrella. Of course, nobody is naïve enough to believe that such a hotchpotch of personalities and disproportionate egos were all going to find an easy way to face the elections together. However, as far as keeping the government on its toes, their unity gave them a lot of punch and standing power and their coordinated actions in parliament, in court and in public created unprecedented momentum.

All that is history today. 

As the Avengers uncovered the headstone to be placed on Kistnen’s grave, one wonders if there shouldn’t have been another one ready for Bodha’s party, whose name I still can’t recall. Come to think of it, it’s more economical to have one for the whole comatose opposition. As we speak, it is digging its own grave wide and deep. The competition for a suitable epitaph is open.

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