The Hindu community needs workers – swayamsevaks – not hench men and chamchas. No leader who is surrounded by a bunch of chamchas can achieve anything. It only explains why so many of our leaders have no legacy. Their passing automatically puts to death their minions who had failed to develop an identity of initiative and hard work.
Ravana had a chamcha in Mareech who survived an arrow by Rama. When Ravana later asked Mareech to carry out his dirty work against Rama and he hesitated, he was threatened with death. Mareech now had to make a choice- to die at the hands of Ravana or Rama and opted for the latter.
In Trinidad Bhadase was known to have his several loyal followers. The late Ajeet Priamsingh of Curepe told me that “my father was a Bhadase stooge.” Ramnarine Binda, a former Chairman of the Caroni County Council shared similar sentiments in his relationship with Bhadase Sagan Maraj in his memoir Courage in Caroni. With Bhadase as his leader Binda felt empowered to confront the authorities to improve the community. One such example was when he mobilized the parents and students at the dilapidated Orange Field Hindu School to occupy the newly built government school. Not budging from his stance, the Ministry of Education gave in to his demands.
Fortunately, Bhadase’s legacy has outlived him in the Maha Sabha, an institution which he founded in 1952 with the likes of Simbhoonath Capildeo, Ramsurat Singh, Rampersad Bolai, Chanka Maharaj and other distinguished personalities in the Hindu community. Had Bhadase not built the Maha Sabha and later the People Democratic Party (PDP) that subsequently morphed into the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), this country would have been poorer socially and politically. There would not have been the celebration of the 38th Anniversary of Baal Vikass, a cultural competition that that highlights the talents of students of the Maha Sabha’s schools with inputs and support of teachers, parents and other culturally talented musicians.
Minions and lackeys don’t build an organization like the Maha Sabha and the PDP/DLP but real men and women. Nevertheless, there will always be minions and lackeys like fleas around a leader. While several lackeys surrounded Bhadase, he didn’t confine his membership to them but embraced other men of social standing in the country. These men not only helped Bhadase with the Maha Sabha’s school building program across the country but also worked with him in the All-Trinidad Sugar Union to give a voice to workers for better wages and working conditions.
Through the DLP Bhadase won the 1958 Federal Elections and the 1959 Local Government Elections. No leader surrounded with minions can achieve this much but only a man of substance who can attract equally competent people.
Bhadase was also a successful businessman owning cinemas and racing pools across the country. He never hesitated to work in partnership as he did to launch the Crest Cinema in Curepe in 1952. At social events he was among equally distinguished people such as attorney at law S B Dolsingh and H. V. Gopaul, a real estate developer of Marabella.
Leadership today is one eyed man in blind man country. It is surrounding oneself with non-achievers. That is not the formula to develop a strong and vibrant community. Minions and brain-dead followers are needed in criminal gangs, where the leader gives instructions, and the followers carry them out without hesitation.
Leadership is now very democratic, and the people have no reservation in supporting any man or woman who have proved their worth. This is witnessed today in the elevation of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India and a global leader. More than Modi are the people who surround him, all competent and well experienced in their respective fields, not minions and lackeys like Mareech.
It is now time to debunk the Ravana leadership that is of a past era. It is the projection of a leader gone rogue. Had Bhadase not taken the leadership to build the Maha Sabha there would have been no Radio Jagriti, no Baal Vikas, no Pandit Parishad and no Maha Sabha schools and certainly no UNC to struggle for our political rights and freedoms. Let us refrain from putting leaders on a pedestal and direct our energies toward building institutions that would serve generations to come as the Maha Sabha continues to.