Fifth Column

20th May 2001

Behaving like a 'podiyen'

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My dear Rauf,

I thought of writing to you when I heard that you were back in action last week, threatening to resign over the incidents at Mawanella and wanting commissions of inquiry to probe those events.

Of course you got your commission but you must also know by now that no one least of Satellite! - took you seriously because once before you threatened to quit the government in one hundred days, again over the appointment of some commissions to oversee the police.

Now, Rauf don't think that we are against an impartial investigation into what happened at Mawanella. It does appear that some local politicians in the area were upto mischief and that cannot be approved of in anyway.

But what is of more interest is how that apparently personal dispute became a clash between two communities almost overnight with protests and demonstrations erupting in Maradana, leading to a curfew. Do you seriously want us to believe that it was all a spontaneous eruption of anger, Rauf?

And then what was more surprising was the statement that you issued thereafter, Rauf. You were condemning all that happened at Mawanella but there wasn't a single word mentioned about Maradana in that statement- it was as if they never occurred.

And it is actions like those, Rauf, that can lead to disaster. You as a leader (or is it co-leader still?) of an important party based on communal lines have a responsibility to behave in a manner that does not provoke communal tensions. But it appears that you were more interested in gaining a short-term political advantage, even at the expense of communal harmony. You know Rauf, even the late Ashraff would have been shocked!

And the result of that is, Rauf that your own people would now rather trust Fowzie and Alavi instead of coming to you with their problems. You may have got your commission of inquiry from Satellite, but you have lost a lot of goodwill in the process.

Then, we heard that Satellite was so angry with you that she gave you a good piece of her mind when you met her last week- and you did not even whisper in protest. You know, if you were a real courageous man you could have resigned and walked out then- and people would have admired you.

Of course we remember how you cried like a kindergarten kid and threatened to walk out when the cabinet was sworn in after the elections because you were not originally allocated the particular portfolio you asked for. And Satellite at that time eventually gave in to your request leaving poor Reggie without a portfolio for a few days. So, it seems that you protest only when it suits you- not on principle.

Never mind, Rauf. You are still a 'podiyen' in politics and we can only hope that you will learn from your mistakes. Of course if you don't, your days in the political arena will be numbered- after all, the good lady is always in the wings, waiting to take over and she has what you will never have: the Ashraff name!

Yours truly, Punchi Putha.

PS- Don't have a lot of faith in those commissions that Satellite appointed, Rauf. After all, I think it was Pieter Keuneman who said that Commissions are like a morning visit to the toilet: first there is a sitting, then there is a little deliberation, then there is a little noise and finally you drop the matter! 

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