Will the Ravived community in Mauritius play kingmakers, once again, or will they take control of the situation this time around?
The political history of Mauritius is closely linked to the fate of the Ravived community and the history of the Movement Militant Mauricien too rests largely on support from the Ravived.
These are the undeniable truths and today we are exploring the impact the community will have on local politics and perhaps on the future of democratic Mauritius.
Recently, the Mauritius Arya Ravived Pracharni Sabha elected is managing committee.
Among the elected members are those who are pro-MMM and those who are pro-Labour. The arrangement was perfect until the break-off of the MMM-Labour-PMSD-RP alliance. The elected member of the society is essentially pro-Paul Berenger and pro-Navin Ramgoolam.
Historically, the Ravived community were massively Labour supporters. Since the elections for the independence of the country, the community weighed-in for the Labour.
After the coming of the MMM, the militants from the community, mostly young punks with new idealism, shifted support towards the MMM.
This boosted the party’s fortunes in the villages leading to the 1971 victory of Dev Virahsawmy, the first defeat of the Labour in a village in years.
Then there were the ‘1976’ hungover with the MMM winning the polls, clinching a few key seats in villages. But the PMSD of Gaetan Duval stepped-in to save the flinching regime of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam.
Back to the recent elections in the Ravived society, winds are blowing the members are planning to promote Satish Faugoo or Sanjiv Ghurburrun as frontman.
It appears tough negotiations are underway and canvassing has started. This has, indeed, reached the ears of the Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Jugnauth.
If the Ravived were to push their members to lead the Labour party, it will add to the already shaky base of the Movement Socialist Militant.
Jugnauth is weary that after the elections in the Mauritius Arya Ravived Pracharni Sabha, his ministers Deepak Balgobin and Leeladevi Dookun Lutchmun will not get enough support from the Ravived.
In the last elections in constituencies, number 5 and 6 the Ravived candidates from the MSM failed to win. They include Minister Gangah and Dr Luchoo.
In 1967, when Mauritius was heading for independence, the PMSD of Duval had a trump card under his sleeve.
He had Ramsoondar Modun, the president of a Ravived union supporting his fight against independence.
But the Labour party of SSR worked very hard to get Modun to join the pro-independence movement. He was given a ticket to be a candidate in Triolet.
As a candidate with SSR on his side, the Labour trio won the seats and the party also defeated the PMSD.
We can say if they did not bring him together in the pro-independence movement, there could have been a game-changer in favour of Duval.
Duval lost the gambit to keep Mauritius as a British colony in the polls by a thin margin. His PMSD won 44% of the votes.
1982 and 60-0
We can say the Ravived also played their part in the historic 1982 elections.
The MMM-PSM won by 60-0 and Ravived leaders like Dharmanand Fokeer, Dharam Gokool and Prem Koonjoo were popular.
They played a big role in the 1991 elections too when the MSM-MMM faced the Labour-PMSD of Navin Ramgoolam in the elections.
The young Ravived leaders from the MMM faced Beergoonauth Ghurburrun, a Ravived. The pro-MMM Ravived won. Labour had only 3 candidates elected in 1991.
But it is the negotiations before the 1991 elections that are the focus for us.
Berenger had insisted the country will become a republic after the 1991 elections. He proposed the name of Sir Robin Ghurburrun as the vice president of the country.
This, he knew, will get the Ravived community to fully support the SAJ-Berenger tandem in 1991. Indeed, it made a difference.
Just like in 1967, the Labour brought in Modun, in 1991, the MSM-MMM brought Ghurburrun.
While in 1967 all the Hindus were with SSR, the Ravived were divided into two clans. The pro-Ghurburrun and the pro-Modun. The Modun clan was modest but influential.
Their joining Labour in 1967 made a difference.
1983: If the MSM did not have the support of SSR, Sir Satcam Boolell and Duval in 1983, they would have lost.
Koonjoo and Fokheer were strong and they almost did the impossible in 1983.
That year, all the Ravived candidates in the MSM-Labour alliance came out ‘tete de liste’ in their constituencies.
The MMM Ravived candidates lost but with thin margins and they ended 4th.
In 2010 MMM proposed Deotam Santokhee for Vice President. In 2018 there were proposals to have Santokhee or Dharam Gookhul as VP of Mauritius.
Santokhee is the longest serving president of the ARPS, always winning the elections. He is an influential decision maker in the MMM.
FOCUS ON GHURBURRUN
While Labour is still hooked to Ramgoolam as the eternal leader, other parties are looking at Sanjeev Ghurburrun.
The father of Mr Ghurburrun made his way to the Labour party after tough negotiations.
Sir Robin left his post as Ambassador in India to come back to do active politics.
He joined Labour after a lot of tractions. The Ravived community is also looking at Ghurburrun as a potential name to forward as the leader of the Labour.
Picture Credit: IONEWS