ANALYSIS: The Chaudhry Game

Whether Mahendra Chaudhry finally gives up the tight hold he has had on the Fiji Labour Party or not is something we will know for sure in the coming weeks.
07 Jul 2015 09:51
ANALYSIS: The Chaudhry Game

Whether Mahendra Chaudhry finally gives up the tight hold he has had on the Fiji Labour Party or not is something we will know for sure in the coming weeks.

Don’t bet against him still being there this time next year despite all the talk now.

History tells us that a group of loyal Chaudhry supporters will speak up during delegates meeting. They will urge him to stay on as Labour leader. And Mr Chaudhry shall oblige and stay on as leader.

That bridge will be crossed in the party congress to be held next month.

But what if Mr Chaudhry realises that for the betterment of the Party, he really does need to step aside?

Who is there to steer the party back out of the electoral wilderness into which he has led them?

Mr Chaudhry is not known to have had a succession plan in place.

Neither is he known to mentor people who could replace him in days, months or years to come.

The only obvious heir apparent has been his son Rajendra, now hanging out in Sydney and showing little appetite to return.

What has happened over the years is others who could have stepped up to lead the party today were very strategically sidelined, and/or shown the door.

A look at who can or could have been a breath of life for this dying Party:

– Krishna Datt: a founding member of the party who could have provided much needed guidance to the party.

But, surprise, surprise, the respected Mr Datt had a falling out with Mr Chaudhry.

Had he still been with Labour today, he could have been a strong candidate to step up as leader.

– Felix Anthony: Mr Anthony without doubt wanted to lead the Fiji Labour Party. He believed he could do well as leader.

His ambitions were noticed by Mr Chaudhry and Mr Anthony was soon on his way out of the party.

This no doubt led to the forming of the Peoples’ Democratic Party. This was another reason for votes being swayed away from Labour in last year’s elections.

– Rohit Kishore: Has got the right background to provide the Fiji Labour Party with a change in direction and policies. But fell out Mr Chaudhry over Mr Chaudhry’s leadership style and became a target of Mr Chaudhry’s son Rajendra on social media.

An academic without some of the sectoral interests that bedevil the party, Mr Kishore recognised what this country needs.

His leadership would mean a move away from just the cane belt areas to more inclusive politics.

– Arvind Datt: He was also seen as a threat by Mr Chaudhry’s son Rajendra, who took to social media to discredit Mr Datt at every given opportunity.

No doubt Mr Datt was able to reach out to the youth in a manner that neither Mr Chaudhry nor his son could do. He has leadership qualities which can steer this party to new heights.

Chaudhry Junior’s leadership ambitions might be in limbo because of his own problems.

But while he hangs out in distant Sydney he seems to play a major role creating trouble for some of those candidates here in Fiji.

– Poseci Bune: Had times been different, Mr Bune could today be sitting on the executive table, ready to step in to lead the party.

But, like many capable ones, he was too capable by far. He too fell away from the party. Currently from all those who are still members of the Fiji Labour Party there is hardly anyone who can step up to replace Mr Chaudhry.

Perhaps a scenario strategically put in place to ensure that the leadership remains with the current lot.

Perhaps there is still a glimmer of hope by the father that one day the son and one- time heir apparent will be able to return and succeed him.

Faint hope that now, some would say, given Chaudhry Junior’s bizarre behaviour on social media.



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