Imagine you playing a high stakes game of politics, winner gets all, and the only card in your hand is Sat Maharaj?
That is pretty much the predicament in which Kamla and her government have found themselves.
Both Labour and Jack Warner have abandoned them: so the popular support and the deep coffers Warner (once) had have both disappeared.
The COP, we all know, is a dead and riderless horse. Its two choices for leadership are Ramadhar and Dookeran. Need I go on?
The numerous other civil society groups that sung Kamla praises and supported her have all but disappeared and several of them now march against her in very public rallies. In short, all of the public good will that Persad-Bissessar had garnered after beating Panday at internal elections has disappeared. Well, except Hazel Brown.
At this point the PP or UNC, whichever name it chooses to go into election 2015 with, is reliant on two groups: the criminal element and die hard UNC supporters.
Even with die-hard supporters Kamla has a hard road to travel. In spite of what the many Facebook UNC walls (all with the same fake profiles of PEA and Allan Karim) attempt to spin and say, even supporters of Kamla have grown fed up of her style of non-governance. Why else would you need to pull out your trump card of Maha Sabha religious leader, on Indian Arrival Day, in a predominantly Indian electoral seat unless…….Sat is your only trump card and things so bad, you need to rally your base?
Trouble in the heartland? Are folks disenchanted with your less than stellar record?
Let me quickly remind you of what Kamla campaigned for in 2010.
1. Good Governance, Transparency and accountability. The country still waiting.
2. An end to wastage of public monies and Squandermania. Have you read the last two Auditor General Reports on the spending of Public Monies? We are $30 billion dollars in debt. Yes. $30b.
3. An end to violent criminal activity and white collar crime. Two words: Dana Seetahal.
4. The right to recall MPs if they are underperforming. Cabinets shuffling and reshuffling and realigning every year, but no talk of the right of recall anymore. I wonder why?
Those are just four items from their very glossy and colorful 7 Pillars of Development. Remember that document?
The PNM votes that Kamla’s PP got in 2010 to sweep her to government have returned home. The marginal voters cussing themselves and avidly searching for reasons to vote in 2015, and this means pressure has to be put on Keith Rowley to show that his game is superior.
This leaves Kamla with her heartland. And that’s what? 15 seats? After winning 29 in 2010?
Then there is the other group. The criminal element. This is the one group we cannot underestimate. Abu Bakr of 1990 coup fame has often alluded to the role his organization, the Jamaat Al Muslimeen, has played in mobilizing votes for political parties.
As reports on the Life Sport Programme have shown, Kamla’s government has gotten very cozy with a group that has criminal shadows over it. As an electorate, we have to ask ourselves how many other groups like this is the UNC govt bankrolling and at what cost.
Today’s Guardian claims the Life Sport Programme is being audited a third time. As a result, payments from the programme are on hold.
If this is the only such programme under this government, expect frustration when “at-risk youth” from “depressed” communities cannot get their monies.
But I sincerely doubt Life Sport is the only programme doling out monies to criminal elements. The very same hand out syndrome Kamla lashed out at and despised in 2010, has become a key feature of her government. So, I expect a reporter to soon find another programme or slush fund in some remote corner of a Ministry that is bank rolling less than savory elements.
Consider now, that Kamla really only has two bases to rely on. And it is only one she can rally and call out to publicly…the party faithful. A group that nurses great resentment towards the larger community. A group that at every turn is quick to point out that no one likes them because they are Indian, or Hindu or both. That they are oppressed and marginalized and persecuted because of their ethnic and religious identity….as if oppression, marginalization and persecution belongs to any one group here. This is the group Sat Maharaj represents, and this is why showering him with public accolades is important. She has to reassure this group she is still one of them, hasn’t forgotten them and needs them. If Sat were speak out against Kamla, consider what that would do to her chances at the polls next year in her heartland seats?
After running a slick PR campaign in 2010 that pretended to be about issues, Persad-Bissessar has gone back to basics and is going to run a race platform. In reassuring herself of her heartland base Kamla has resorted to reactivating the Race Bogey. We are back in 1961 all over again. Sat Maharaj remains one of the most polarizing and divisive individuals the country has produced. His racist comments are now being described by the PM as free speech. And the PM is yet to apologize for the many instances she has used race baiting and prejudiced comments on the campaign trail during last year’s 4 elections. When calypsonians and satirists practise the same freedom of speech I hope she is just as openminded.
It is now up to us, right thinking citizens, to reject race rhetoric and force the coming political campaigns to be about the glaring issues that are sinking us daily.
We in Full Dotish mode to 2015. It will get tense. It will be sticky.