Why I Welcome Mikela Panday
Photo : Mickela Panday
I want to take this opportunity to welcome Mikela Panday to the politics. I sincerely believe that every individual should have the right to form a political party and run for political office. It is insulting that when someone demonstrates the intention of forming a party like Mikela such person should be accused of splitting votes!
This brings me to the culture of monotheism that is the bane of intolerance and ethnic conflict throughout the world. It is this kind of dogma that continues to plunge the world into an abyss of ethnic conflict. There is no one prophet or guide with one map to lead us to our political Nirvana. In fact, I welcome as many guides and maps as there may be necessary just as much as Mikela and all political aspirants should be welcomed.
A Yankee and the Swamis (2007) by John Yale makes interesting reading. John Yale arrived in India in the 1950s and settled at the Ramakrishna Math in Calcutta. He observed that India did not have a national dress and that the people dressed as freely as they chose. This is unlike the US where the jeans and T shirt have now been embraced as the “national wear” and our own Trinidad and Tobago where a national instrument has to be trusted on the population.
It is unfortunate that Indians who come from a culture of diversity and pluralism should fall victims to the propaganda of monotheism, fanaticism and racism. The Indian ideology is dharma, that is, a view of the universe as a manifestation of the Divine. When Indians engage in bigotry they are alienating themselves from their divine nature and embracing hedonism and the decadence of Ravan Raj.
Recently, I read in Yahoo News where Shruti Rajkumar of the US went to her prom with traditional Indian clothing. Shruti commented that “I found myself completely hiding that part of me in order to assimilate into the American lifestyle and culture that was all around me.” This is the Indian spirit. It is one of diversity and expansion, not contraction, where the entire society must stop whatever it is doing to attend to the demands of an insatiable and insecure ego.
Politically, we need to admire the tenacity of Shruti to be herself and not a shadow of American culture. In a similar manner Mikela Panday and Kirk Meighoo of the DNA are demonstrating that they have the capacity to strive for political office. And the best any society can offer them is to provide the forum for such an aspiration. To make them feel that they have blundered is tantamount to terrorism to silent ‘dissent’ a la Malala.
An Indian like Mikela is only exploring her chance of winning in the political arena. The dismissal of her political ambition by a few is to lay claim to a monopoly of truth. This sort of terrorism is alien to Indian society and should be shunned. We have witnessed the demise of many of our talented sons and daughters in the politics by this politics of exclusion. Not surprisingly there is a paucity of talents and abilities today to get the tasks done!
Mikela is a breath of fresh air. Her presence in the politics demonstrates that the Pandays have the culture and commitment to reproduce their talents and not be swept away by the ups and downs of life into an abysmal depression. This ability of the Pandays should be emulated by families across the diaspora to ensure continuity in the family traditions. No other politicians have been able to groom their daughter or sons for political office in this country! Not an Eric Williams! Not a Kamal Mohammed! Only a Basdeo Panday!
T&T is not a monarchy where power can be handed from father to daughter like a cow. Power has to be contested and won. Even if that power is handed down, the one so empowered would now have the task to wield that power for the welfare of the society. It is only by adjusting to the challenges of every day that success would be achieved and that would take more than being a daughter of Basdeo Panday in the case of Mikela.
I am happy that Panday did not hand over power to Kamla and that she had to challenge him for it. By Kamla not giving Mikela power on a platter, she has unwittingly empowered Mikela to stand on her own two feet. It is only an individual who can challenge the leader has the right to wield power. Even a monarch engages his sons in battles so that they can prove their worthiness to ascend the throne!
In a pride of lions an outsider has to invade and kill the dominant male and the younger males to prevent incest and the weakening of the species. Nature is only demonstrating that the best option in politics is to challenge the leader to wrest the leadership. Mikela Panday is now making her claim for leadership of the UNC base and none of the sycophants that surround Kamla stands a chance. The sycophants have their roles. However, their ambition does not go outside the precinct of the harem!
Basdeo Panday was not given power on a platter. He entered the political fray and won it after defeating other aspirants. George Chambers inherited power after the death of Dr Eric Williams. He was a compromised candidate who not only lacked charisma but also political acumen. Not surprisingly the PNM was defeated 33-3 in 1986, thus ushering in a new era in the politics of Trinidad and Tobago.
The PNM monolithic political culture is not only killing this country but also the political aspirations of many. It is sacrilegious for any PNMite to question and challenge the leadership of the party. This has sent many to the political grave yards. Such fanaticism must not be entertained among the supporters of the UNC but banished!
Mikela has demonstrated by calling a meeting at Gaston Courts to measure her political viability that she is not a “political loocho” waiting on Kamla to call her and give her a safe seat. She has opted to wear her boots and till the soil to harvest her political fortune. It is this spirit of leadership I embrace, not the sycophants and loafers!