The persistent rumours of an alliance between the MSM and the MMM (quelled so far by the MMM) was apparently an idea dear to the French and to the Indians.
French diplomats were on the ground to salvage a deal between the two parties – talks were already at a high level between Paul Berenger and Aneerood Jugnauth – but it fell apart due to the numerous demands from the MMM and the absence of a sense of reality by the regime in power.
The MMM did not want Pravind as PM for long, to start with, while they would not oppose SAJ as Minister Mentor.
In this scenario, Nando Bodha would have been prepped to become the next PM with the MMM in the government
The idea behind it is to get the leader of the MMM Berenger in the Cabinet.
“The MMM (or rather Berenger) would also want the ML ministers out of the Cabinet and replaced by MMM members.” said our source
This despite the sign of support from the ML the MMM in the upcoming by-elections in No 18.
Our source said SAJ would not complicate the deal but removing Pravind as PM is something SAJ would not have accepted, said a source to WFTV.
However, Berenger is not prepared to accept a deal in which Pravind would remain as PM, thus the constant eyeballing and scathing attacks between both politicians.
This meant that the deal is limbo, leading to both France and India to press for their respective agenda, that is early polls for that New Delhi is advocating and no polls but a coalition government preferred by Paris.
But what does Tromelin has to do with all this: Berenger as the friendly face
The French want to renew the talks on Tromelin and put a suspended debate in the French Parliament back on track.
For that matter, Paris wanted Port Louis to have a stable regime with Paul Berenger in the Cabinet to get the Parliament in Paris to vote on the deal between Mauritius and France.
While the controversy in France over Tromelin has led to the postponing of the ratification by the French Parliament (in 2017) of a framework agreement entered into by France and Mauritius in June 2010, the diplomatic efforts from Paris did not go in vain.
It resulted in talks between Berenger and SAJ, while New Delhi too was in favour of such talks. However, it is the prospects of a French parliament rejection of the deal between France and Mauritius on Tromelin that worried India.
Recall, the framework agreement on Tromelin was made possible by a deal between then French President Francois Mitterrand provides for joint economic, scientific and environmental management (co-gestion) of the island and of surrounding maritime areas.
India has a separate deal that encroaches On the French agenda, and it is the Agalega deal.
New Delhi’s ambitions in the Indian Ocean and in the Mauritian waters are clear and this is linked to India’s 2007 Maritime Security Strategy which tends to give the country the ‘moral right’ to assume responsibility for stability in the Indian Ocean Region.
This translates into India becoming a net provider of security inits’ immediate region and beyond. But that area is of concern to French security and Paris’ adamant belief that it has to defend its territorial integrity at all cost.
The Chinese Ogre
However, a clash between France and India on security issues in the Indian Ocean would have been negative outcomes for India’s overall trade and military security, given the rise of China as a superpower (military and economic) in the region with it One Belt One Road project.
Thus, New Delhi and Paris secretly promoted an MMM-MSM deal – another Papa, Piti deal since Paul Berenger is seen as the other son of Aneerood Jugnauth – that would have solved the Tromelin problem for France and the Chinese problem for New Delhi.
But with the MMM putting the talks in the freezer due to intense pressure from the ground and thanks to WFTV’s earlier revelations of the MMM-MSM deal, New Delhi is in limbo over the Indian Ocean security issues.
And the stumbling block, in this case, is once again the refusal of Pravind Jugnauth to give up the post of PM.
To be continued