Ganga-political survivor extraordinaire

Ganga Singh is no longer a person but an archetype. It is a personality trait that the average Trini admire secretly. According to one professional: “Ganga is a hero. He is quite shrewd and plays his politics right. I admire him.” I was silent at the other end. I could not believe what I was hearing! I interpreted it as a kind of admiration for gangsters in the ghetto!

Ganga-political survivor extraordinaire
Photo : Ganga Singh

Ganga Singh is no longer a person but an archetype. It is a personality trait that the average Trini admire secretly. According to one professional: “Ganga is a hero. He is quite shrewd and plays his politics right. I admire him.” I was silent at the other end. I could not believe what I was hearing! I interpreted it as a kind of admiration for gangsters in the ghetto!

Raj niti or politics from a Hindu perspective is buttressed by dharma. The raja is installed in power and the Brahmin priest that installs him after the chanting of appropriate mantras, takes a rod and executes a ritual beating on the head of the king saying: “when you breach dharma, dharma will punish you.”

Strangely, as Hindus we have come to adopt a Machiavellian concept of politics which I think we misunderstand. Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was an Italian diplomat who loved his native land. He saw other nations becoming powerful while his Italy was divided and weak. His writing-The Prince- was a treatise advising the Medici rulers, the most powerful family in Italy, how a prince should rule.

Machiavelli recommended the use of conniving and deceit as legitimate strategies for a ruler to employ to further the cause of the nation state. Unfortunately, Machiavelli has come to mean the use of deceit to further one narrow self-interest.

It is not shocking that most must have silently supported that move by Ganga to vote for a enhanced package for retired parliamentarians and judges and other ranks of the political elite. But the “Ole Gangs” was not just voting for retirement benefits. He was voting for an extension of his political life. Ganga understands power! He wants to be in government, not in opposition barking like a pot hound at Rowley. And it is possible that he does not see the current UNC going into government!

Ganga is a manufactured and packaged product with a long political life. Those who think that Ganga is finished is wrong. Ganga is going to incarnate in the new political dispensation called the Patriotic Front.

Ganga knows loyalty up to a point. Like a slave he always needs a master to take care of him. In 1986 A.N.R. Robinson was his master. His loyalty to his master was envious and Basdeo Panday experienced the loyalty of Ganga when he (Panday) had the temerity to confront ANR Robinson. Little Ganga stood up like Bruce Lee and fearlessly defended his master.

When Sham Mohammed, MP for Caroni East, died during the 1991-95 term Ganga was lurking in the wings like a political ninja during the by-election. By 1995 he was the UNC candidate for Caroni East and back in government.  With the removal of Panday from government, Ganga saw the Panday political currency in decline. In his indomitable style, Ganga chose Dookeran but opted not to contest a seat in 2007. By 2010 Ganga was still in the background like the sly jackal waiting for the lion to have its fill but contented to survive on leftovers. Ganga, very skillfully, waited until 2010 when the PPP came to power. Appointed CEO of WASA, he was soon Minister of Water Resources “putting down pipes” across the country. No one can deny that Ganga is the most efficient Minister with responsibility for WASA and that he has always done an excellent job!

Interestingly, when Ganga was a Minister in the PP Government, he had divorced Dookeran and was now living with Kamla in the house of the rising sun. His loyalty to Kamla resulted in the removal of shadow MP Vasant Bharath from Chaguanas West-UNC heartland- for him to get the candidacy. Vasant was like Sri Ram in exile, political vagrant.

“The last-minute allocation of the St Joseph seat to Vasant Bharath was not for him to win but to kill him politically,” said an observer. It certainly does not pay to be a Vasant Bharath in this country. It pays to be a Ganga- low profile- waiting silently in the wings for the right moment to pounce.

In Trinidad and Tobago political survival is hinged unto loyalty to a political leader; not programs and policies. In any new political dispensation, Ganga Singh will always be ahead of Vasant Bharath. In fact, any dog or cat politician who knows the political leader’s birthday, favourite dish and drink stands a better chance politically than Vasant Bharath. And who tell Vasant Bharath that he can challenge the post of political leader? Political leader is the last thing Ganga wants! The reality is Ganga is a political survivor extraordinaire!