jugnauth polls

How did Jugnauth beat two major parties in the Nov 7 polls?

Kasenally says Jugnauth abused of the MBC, but the people bought with freebies while the Light Rail project awed the Mauritians…

The Militant Socialist Movement’s win can be attributed to a combination of factors, says CEO, African Media Initiative and Associate Professor University of Mauritius Roukaya Kasenally.

In an interview with The Conversation, she says Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth’s introduction of key measures played a major role.

They include minimum wage (never seen in Mauritius) and increased the pensions for the elderly. The MSM-ML regime gave a boost to the elderly with the pensions.

In the past, there were uncertainties about these pensions which are costing the country a lot of money. But the MSM-ML did not see this as a concern despite the massive debt the country is amassing.

Nevertheless, according to Kasenally, it played a role in swinging affiliations in the country. The opposition, however, says it is a sort of bribery that has caused the swing in favour of the Jugnauth regime.

THE FREEBIES

Kasenally also says the regime brought changes to the labour law (enacting the Workers’ Rights Act) and made education in public universities free.

Free education is always a winner in politics. The Labour Party or PTR was the first in the nation history to grant free education at the primary and secondary level.

That was in 1976 and they won the elections on a razor. While they were beaten by the MMM, they formed a coalition government with the PMSD of Gaetan Duval.

“His government also oversaw some important infrastructure projects, such as the first phase of the Light Railway Project, which will pass through five towns. People could see and relate to such outcomes,” she says.

The MSM-ML-PMSD alliance in 2014 campaigned against the project and people supported them. They won and after they formed the government they slowly brought the Light Rail project back on the table.

What had started under former PM Navin Ramgoolam became their victory dance in the 2019 elections. Well, Kasenally did not say it this way, but this is was the end result on Nov 8.

LRT FOR AGALEGA

The population she says lauded Jugnauth junior for initiating the project which got immense financial backing from Narendra Modi, the Indian PM.

In return, netizens are saying, he allowed India to have an upper hand on Agalega Island. A geostrategic landmass in the Indian Ocean that will serve India in its own Belt and Road initiative.

The aim is to give India a stronger footing in the southern part of the Indian Ocean, an area where China is trying to weed its way through.

This part of the Indian Ocean is also a hotly contested geopolitical area with the Americans occupying the British-held Diego Garcia Island. Mauritius won ownership of the Island but Britain has rejected any calls to return it Mauritius.

Nevertheless, Kasenally says, “Jugnauth’s election win also owes something to the power of incumbency. For example, his party used the state media extensively.”

But this is not the first time in Mauritian history that such a thing happened.

The Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation did worst during the 1982 campaign but the MMM-PSM regime under Sir Anerood Jugnauth failed to obliterate this aberration.

FRAUD AND RIGGING

Jugnauth is now facing accusations of electoral fraud and vote-rigging. And Kasenaly highlights this in the interview.

Since the announcement of the results, the opposition and civil society organisations have voiced concerns over what they view as a number of irregularities, she says.

“These range from a significant number of voters that were not able to vote, marked ballot papers discovered after voting outside counting centres and the inexperience of staff recruited to work during the election.

“The opposition is now filing a case on this in the Supreme Court. This is the first time election results in Mauritius have faced such grave contestation since the country’s independence.”

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