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Ugly, Prime Minister

By Ralph Maraj

Before Divali, I wrote that "Rawan'' rules here, pointing to corruption, political tribalism, decadence and a spreading social swampland in Trinidad and Tobago. The Prime Minister proved me right. At the Divali Nagar, she was raw and "rawanic'', pouring her darkness on the people's lights, blasting the "kurta-clad'' Opposition Leader.

Unbelievable, scandalous and completely without class!

It rendered the rest of her speech "sounding brass'' and "clanging cymbal''; high-sounding hollowness. For she spoke of dharma but was divisive; posed as a gyani but was unenlightened; celebrated Hanuman but was small and mean; touted fearlessness but was as insecure as Kaikeyi, the stepmother who engineered Rama's exile. Ugly, Kamla, ugly! Dressed up nice and so ugly? Thank God for the brave little deyas lit by thousands of ordinary hands. They triumphed over the darkness you invoked.

The UNC will pay dearly for this. Henceforth, Kamla could pull whatever costume from her wardrobe, headpieces and all, for Emancipation or Shouter Baptist Day, she will justifiably be seen as a pathetic masquerader with her contrived cosmopolitanism. She claimed to speak for Hindus; but many, of all sects, reject her rakshas rubbish of that night.

She attacked Rowley because he condemned her bowing at the feet of the Indian president. So let's make it abundantly clear. As Prime Minister of T&T, Kamla must bow to nobody in this universe. Respect the nation you lead. We, the people, demand it. You were not on a personal pilgrimage. In any case, in the Hindu tradition, you bow at the feet of the elders in your family or your pundit or spiritual leader. Not to every elderly Hindu you meet. Then you could be bowing all day, all night.

The then president of India, Prathiba Patil, was not Kamla's ajee, nanee, khakee, mowsie, or any other family elder. She was not a great guru of India. She was merely the ceremonial head of the Indian government as was her predecessor Abdul Kalam. And Patil has gone, replaced by Pranab Mukerjhee.

Kamla called her bowing "a sacred exercise in devotion''. Hare Ram! Devotion? Devotion to whom? Devotion to the president of India? What idiocy! If we follow Kamla's logic and Max Richards were Ramachandra Maharaj, all Hindus would bow to him whenever they meet in "a sacred exercise in devotion''. Ridiculous! Kamla was totally out of place and belittled the nation. She behaved like a country bumpkin.

The Indian protocol establishment has an acute sense of propriety and knowing them, I still hear derisive giggles and guffaws in New Delhi, whenever they remember the spectacle. It will forever remain an embarrassment. And it was all theatre, to make headlines in India. Embarrassing your country to get your picture in the Indian papers? What next?

Therefore discipline this Prime Minister, before she does further damage. She has already got away with too much, from Reshmi to Section 34 and so much in between. People of culture, lead the way. It is your responsibility. National Council of Indian Culture, (NCIC); reject Kamla's uncultured behaviour at the Nagar. Your mandate is to elevate Indian culture. Her attack on Rowley was not Indian culture. It was despicable, divisive darkness. Maintain your respect, NCIC. Condemn her behaviour and don't invite her again unless she issues a public apology.

The same for the Emancipation Support Committee, the Shouter Baptist Movement, the Chinese Association, Syrian Lebanese Organisation and the Dougla Brotherhood, if it exists. Collaborate. Stand up. Give the National Anthem meaning. The Prime Minister insulted every citizen with that ugliness. Discipline her.

Do not invite her to your celebrations without her contrition. Exile her to her residence, office and constituency to do some real work for a change and to exorcise the inner demons that produced those dark utterances. And do not fear the government will withhold funds for your organisations. It is your money and you must have it, with or without the Prime Minister. And if they make the mistake and are vindictive, stand up and be worthy of the history you represent.

Time to discipline these politicians! We are their bosses. Raise the bar. No politician, Partnership or PNM, who acts against the nation, must be allowed to bask in the people's limelight, hugging national celebrations, without doing penance. Take them from the front pages and you terrify them. Publicity is their lifeline. So deny them what they live for. Teach them to focus on the country's challenges. Imagine. This nation has huge problems of declining revenue and mounting debt and its leader is fulminating over Rowley's kurta!

Rowley does not represent the PNM only. He is our Opposition Leader, as Kamla is our Prime Minister. His office is critical to our democracy and we must protect it. And when Rowley deserves it, we must condemn him as I have done several times for failing miserably in his sacred duty to protect the people from Section 34. But we must stand with him when he is abused liked this. He is wise not to respond. Be the victim. People are actually beginning to feel sorry for Keith Rowley!

Insecurity is the cause of Kamla's stupidity. The floating vote has left her, some to the PNM, most parked, and her own supporters are increasingly disenchanted. So to protect the base, she drives a partisan wedge. So shortsighted! She may have corralled die-hard Hindu supporters who weren't leaving anyway, but she stirred displeasure among professional, upwardly mobile Hindus, as well as Muslims and Presbyterians. She is dismantling her inheritance, Panday's carefully crafted Indo coalition, and taking the UNC back to the DLP days. Most backward, Prime Minister; and very ugly.

• Ralph Maraj, former

government minister

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