Stratification in Seat Politics
Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2002
By Stephen Kangal
Certain aspects of conventional party politics that are unfortunately progressively acquiring widespread currency in T&T have been reduced to and circumscribed by the sole parameter of winning or losing a seat. The opportunity of becoming an MP for a safe seat is the carrot/prasadum/channa amrit given in exchange ( the quid pro quo) for unquestioning loyalty and the adulation of chelas. Losing that seat would appear to be the maximum or death penalty that will be exacted for daring to challenge the excesses of the maximum leadership syndrome. One incurred this eventuality by winning the June 3 internal elections (Team Unity) or standing up for one’s constituents (Hulsie Bhaggan) or uncompromisingly adhering to principles or defending the cardinal societal values of accountability and transparency in public affairs. (The Three Musketeers).
In contemporary convoluted logic, that is tantamount to being fossilized or at best, frozen in nitrogen pending reconciliation, in the political cemetery. But the fundamental question that any reasonable Trinbagonian should address, if he has not done so already, must be- Who is really languishing with his chelas in the political cemetery today, incrementally becoming a political anachronism if not an embarrassment to his followers and contributing to voter apathy?
Galvanising the tribe into a permanent state of elections- readiness is a strategy derived from and fundamental to the vagaries of seat politics (Keep your jerseys). The seat strategy tends to keep potential and present MP’s in line. The alternative is to be consigned to the proverbial political cemetery via the predictable manipulative gyrations of the polarised and submissive electorate and reinforced and fueled by wanton and reckless charges of neemakharamism.
While being relegated to a permanent state of seat incumbency one is distilled, bottled and placed on the shelves consigned for the ‘Yes Mr. Prime Minister!’ One should not seek to establish a political identity of one’s own. This is perilous, politically hazardous and venturing beyond the parameters of one’s political caste. One dares not break away from the shackles imposed by this nonentity mould into which one has been cast because the gurudeva, notwithstanding, made or will make them vote for one. In this unique syndrome, the inalienable electoral power possessive of both the individual electorate as well as of the collective electorate/membership to elect or not to elect, has been transferred to or arrogantly assimilated in its totality by the satgurudev via a process similar to voluntary disenfranchisement.
Only on this basis can the maha-atma of Bryan’s Gate or the Baron of St. Julien, a.k.a. in a recent incarnation, the Rama of Debe, make the people of Balmain love Ramesh. The latter and others of the same ilk are made to appear and must conduct themselves as having no credentials/identity of their own. Any propensity for assuming a different role leaves one vulnerable to being stigmatised for harbouring a personal and illegal lust for power or of being power-hungry. Only the brahmin maha-rajah descended from the Yadav dynasty of Lakshmanpour has been ordained with the divine right of kings, possessive of the exclusive lien on power as well as to be the first and only Indian T&T Prime Minister in the 21st Century. This is puerility unwound.
A unique corpus of political norms and patterns of behaviour has evolved around the phenomenon of seat a.k.a cult politics. There is consensual method in this madness. It reminds one of the rigid social regimentation spawned by the evils of the caste/class system. It is predicated on the seat incumbent being silenced and reconstituted into mendicant and loyal submission, at times having to admit readily of the pregnancy of the bull in the face of the slightest suggestion or nod from the mahadeva.
Seat politics is a form of adhocracy- the antithesis of the conventional organised political decision-making organisation. The practice is predicated on the pick- up -side geared merely to achieve temporary and tenuous success at the polls to foster and promote the demagogic aspirations of maximum leadership that substituted a La Fantasie Gardens Cabinet for the bona fides, constitutionalised Whitehall version. The vagaries of Seat politics find its natural habitat in and flourishes under the maximum or charismatic leadership syndrome.
Long standing organisational membership, loyalty or seniority is immaterial according to criteria outlined in the latest revelations dispensed at the Black Boy Hotel in North London. Serving quality time in the trenches as foot soldiers/street captains in the interest of promoting organisational growth, development and internalizing/defending the political culture of the entity do not constitute conditionalities to be met by the ultra-privileged urban cadre of nouveau arrivees. They have been selected exclusively by the Pontificate, accorded immediate diocesan pulpit precedence and justified under the canons of inclusion and the de-Caronization of the organisation.
Seat politics is the reinforcement of the paradigm of grasshopper politics where party loyalties are dynamic, shifting, fluid, blurred and straddles the political divide. It is in fact a genre of scavenger politics. The membership/electorate is manipulated, used, abused and confused to sanction each and every outrageous dictat of the mahant leader who recruits rejects from the other side. He is impelled by an inbred albeit weird fixation that dictates that faithful, supportive, loyal colleagues of long standing are to be jettisoned and branded as neemakharams. It is in fact a very sad commentary that the Indo-politics of 21st Century T&T is still mired in the glorified rum and roti katha of the 50’s and 60's.
I continue to be inebriated by the wine of astonishment that in modern, 21 Century T&T, a worthy aspirant to First World status, this brand of political feudalism still persists, is allowed to flourish and be supported indiscriminately on the basis of political bankruptcy or punditine politics. The Indo-electorate remains bonded in a morass of political indentureship by continuing to ignore, to its peril, the imperatives of long- term strategic planning designed to establish viable, strong and structurally sound, democratic political institutions geared to be responsive to their legitimate collective interests.
On the contrary they, that is to say the Indo-electorate is made to sanction the pick-up- side syndrome manifested by willingly welcoming, at the very top, the Gerald, Gilly and Carlos-come-latelies to exploit their support and contribute nothing in return to building long-term organisational effectiveness and stability. The Messianic-chosen one, the albatross who precipitated the June 3 bifurcation ushering in prematurely the sunset of the rising sun, opts out conveniently because a pseudo- family’s decision prevails.
Cric! Crak! The monkey break he back for a piece of pomerac.!
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