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Raffique Shah


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Real People Power

By Raffique Shah
August 17, 2014

What the railroading of the runoff provision in the Constitutional Amendment Bill in Parliament last week showed is that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar will not heed the voices of reason, even if they come from within her own ranks.

Hubris having enveloped her soul, and with an army of sycophants massaging her ego with every word uttered from their mouths, the lady sees in every critic an enemy bent on destroying her. On the eve of her political self-destruction, paranoia has compounded the toxic mix that will hasten her demise.

In fact, I think psychoanalysts will have a field day studying her personality when they perform their post-mortems in due course.

I shall cite a few manifestations of a very confused and disturbed individual to support my contentions.

The PM boasts that the run-off provision, which discards the voice of the electorate at the initial poll when no candidate polls more than 50 per cent of the votes cast, embodies "power to the people". This explanation is such a perversion of a slogan that once represented an ideal, it is sacrilege. I would love to hear big brother Makandal Daaga, who thundered the slogan back in 1970, explain to the tens of thousands who punched our fists in the air back then, just how the provision will finally empower us.

Then switch to the piece de resistance, when, with a flourish, the PM shatters however many years of parliamentary strictures (according to the sycophants) by announcing that People's Partnership MPs will be allowed a "conscience" vote. Thunderous applause from Government benches.

Nobody asks if these men and women ever had consciences in the first place, or if they did, had they not long surrendered them on the altar of the Almighty Kamla? I mean, to have remained silent and detached as cardinal sins aplenty, from banditry to pillage, victimisation to racism, racked the Government, suggest to me that they are devoid of that most human quality.

So how can you give a conscience vote to people who do not have consciences? And when one among them, Winston Dookeran, restores it and passionately argues that what they were about to do was wrong, they regard him as they would a dog turd on the pavement. But then, did anyone seriously expect any of that lot to even think of voting against the party's line?

The PM's contempt for the masses did not stop there. In sending the Bill to the Senate, she suddenly finds time, a full month, to allow senators to study its provisions. The MPs did not need that—they are bright, seedless raisins. But those dull senators, especially the independents, need time to do their homework.

The PM really takes us for fools. Check and see how many Government senators are vacationing abroad. Check out who is courting the independents from whom she needs at least one vote in order for the Bill to become law. She will most likely get more than one. But she and her accomplices need time to work on them, to ensure they deliver when it matters most.

In the interim, she parades around the country with a blimp-size ego, comparing her tampering with the Constitution with historical milestones such as the abolition of slavery, Nelson Mandela's fight against apartheid in South Africa and other landmark achievements. If you think I'm lying or exaggerating, check out her speech at an Emancipation dinner she hosted last Thursday.

Look, everybody is entitled to flights of fancy, to dreaming of greatness, especially when surrounded by sycophants who chant, "You're the greatest!" At one time, the PNM equivalent of this lot used to say that Dr Eric Williams was "the third brightest man in the world". No one knew who the first and second brightest were, but they knew the third—and we were expected to believe that crap.

In my lifetime, I have seen the burly Albert Gomes deflate from a super-blimp to a near-vagrant, almost literally. I witnessed the egotistic Eric hasten his own exit from the wasteland created by PNM sycophants. I saw the humble George Chambers assume airs when he became an accidental prime minister, only to be humiliated and driven into oblivion shortly thereafter.

I saw the rise and fall of Ray Robinson, Basdeo Panday and Patrick Manning, three quite ordinary men who became so consumed by power that it eventually consumed them. They revelled in the adulation, elevated themselves to demigods, and inflicted much hurt on persons they perceived to be their enemies.

In the end, they fell victims to their egos, cut down by the masses they thought they could fool forever. Ironically, the sycophants who had massaged their egos simply switched allegiances, finding new recesses for their tireless tongues.

In Kamla's case, she will learn the hard way what real "people power" is. By failing to heed the voices of reason, to show respect for those who have paid their dues and who have always put country before self or party, she has squandered her chances for a second term.

The weapon she crafted to keep her in power, the run-off, will be used by the masses to ensure her demise. Wait and see.

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