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Why I support Sat

Sunday, May 27, 2018
Kirk Meighoo

Sat Maharaj is one of the most hated men in this country. I, myself, find him to be overly, unnecessarily abrasive and combative in public. I know he is a very alienating person. But I support his stance on this current issue. Let me explain why:

1. "Freeing" the Hindu vote

This is one of the most electric statements made in the political history of Trinidad. And I say this as a political historian. From the days of Bhadase Sagan Maharaj in the 1950s (Sat's father-in-law) the Maha Sabha has been blamed for racialising politics in Trinidad. While they did engage in such politics, the Maha Sabha certainly did not invent it, and do not deserve to be particularly singled out for it. At the same time, Bhadase built an impressive inter-ethnic political coalition in the DLP that defeated Eric Williams's PNM in the 1958 Federal and 1959 County Council elections.

Hindus have been among the most fluid voters in the country, but they largely moved as a block, shifting support from PDP to DLP to ULF to NAR to UNC, but also crossing over to other parties (WFP, DAC, ONR, COP, even PNM) to a much larger degree than Afro-Trinidadians, for example, who basically stuck with the PNM and ignored all the other splinters and rivals, except for the 1986 NAR.

Sat Maharaj said that "the politics must change in this country," and that Hindu voters should vote for whomever has the best platform, regardless of their race or party. This is the type of politics we need in T&T, and I support it fully.

2. Hypocrisy of people attacking Hindus

Sat explained in great detail that a Hindu principal was locked out of an ASJA school because she did not convert to Islam, that Anthony Garcia (now Minister of Education seeking to take action against the Maha Sabha) as principal of Fatima College made Hindu boys snip off their Rakshas (sacred threads around the wrist), girls with mehendi painted on their hands, and children with abeer stains on their skin after Phagwa celebrations were also disallowed in ASJA schools, and that this was the policy of many Government schools as well. No cries of discrimination were made then, in those particular issues. Hindus accepted that there were rules in those schools, conformed, and moved on. (The fact that they had their own Hindu schools presumably had a lot to do with that stance, and that is very important.)

The T&T Police Service also has prohibited Muslim women from wearing a hijab, and there is a court case dealing with the issue at present. Muslims have also been prevented by others from practicing their traditions in schools.

Hindus are unfortunately an easy target, however, as was the case with the gratuitous, deliberately misnamed "child marriages" non-issue, which was artificially inflated to appear as a pressing problem in our country, and gave licence for non-Hindus to freely and openly disparage Hindus, while misrepresenting their positions and views.

3. Respect for Process

Sat has decided to take this to the courts to rule. He has said they will go all the way to the Privy Council if necessary, and if they lose, "we will take our licks and abide by the ruling." This is impressive and important. Democracy and the rule of law can only work if losers accept a verdict. If the Opposition party keeps trying to undermine a government, democracy cannot work. That is not the role of an Opposition. You have a chance at the next election to become the government. The role of the Opposition now is to provide oversight and checks on the Government, and to present an alternative vision. It is not to try to force early elections or prevent the legitimately elected government from operating. The Maha Sabha will fight to the very end to assert its point of view, but at the end of the process, it will accept the verdict.

We are living in very interesting times, both nationally and internationally. Things are changing radically. I welcome these changes. The old Establishment is crumbling everywhere, and ordinary people are defending their peoplehood, all around the world. This is an excellent development, which I support wholeheartedly.

Dr Kirk Meighoo, a political scientist, author, and former independent senator, took to Facebook to express his point of view.


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