Analysis

Resignation Exposes Cracks, Vulnerability In Inner Workings Of NFP As It Tries To Overcome Sensitive Challenges Before Election

It is understood that he had pushed for a change in leadership to attract more iTaukei into the party. The proposal was for either MPs Pio Tikoduadua or Lenora Qereqeretabua to become leader. This was after incumbent Biman Prasad failed to improve on the 2014 election outcome and in the 2018 election. The NFP won three seats in 2014 and the same number in 2018.
30 Mar 2022 14:32
Resignation Exposes Cracks, Vulnerability In Inner Workings Of NFP As It Tries To Overcome Sensitive Challenges Before Election
Charan Jeath Singh. NFP Opposition members Pio Tikoduadua Biman Prasad and NFP Opposition member Lenora Qereqeretabua. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Charan Jeath Singh is no ordinary bloke.

When the prominent Labasa businessman resigned from the National Federation Party (NFP) his departure caused an impact of seismic proportion in the party.

There is a void that the NFP will struggle to fill in the North because he had been a party stalwart and a significant contributor both in advocacy and funding.

Mr Singh, a passionate politician is a straight shooter. He speaks his mind if he feels strongly about an issue.

While it may be a surprise to many that he plans to join Sitiveni Rabuka’s The People’s Alliance Party, it is understood he has come to this decision after a careful survey of the political landscape.

He left the NFP because changes he proposed had fallen on deaf ears.

It is understood that he had pushed for a change in leadership to attract more iTaukei into the party. The proposal was for either MPs Pio Tikoduadua or Lenora Qereqeretabua to become leader. This was after incumbent Biman Prasad failed to improve on the 2014 election outcome and in the 2018 election. The NFP won three seats in 2014 and the same number in 2018.

If Mr Singh had succeeded, it would have been an unprecedented move. Historically, the NFP support base is predominantly Indo-Fijian. In fact, the oldest political party was founded by Indo-Fijian farmers in the cane belt when Fiji was a British colony.

After Independence in 1970 the party grew from strength to strength. A number of iTaukei heavyweights including some from chiefly backgrounds like Ratu Mosese Tuisawau, Ratu Julian Toganivalu bolstered its strength. The late Ratu Mosese was the father of Ro Filipe Tuisawau, the Opposition Whip.

In April 1977, the NFP shocked the country by winning the election with the help of Sakeasi Butadroka, the leader of the Fijian Nationalist Party which split the iTaukei votes. But it failed to form a government because it could not decide who should be Prime Minister within the stipulated timeframe. When it finally chose the late Siddiq Koya, time had expired, and a caretaker government led by Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara whose Alliance Government was toppled, was appointed by then Governor-General the late Ratu Sir George Cakobau. A fresh election was called in September and Ratu Sir Kamisese returned to Government because the NFP was split between the Dove and Flower factions. Mr Koya led the Doves and Jai Ram Reddy headed the Flowers.

A decade later a reunited NFP, with Mr Reddy as leader, partnered with the Fiji Labour Party (FLP) in a coalition and defeated the Alliance Party. But Sitiveni Rabuka spoiled their celebration when he staged the country’s first military coup and overthrew the democratically elected Coalition Government of the late Dr Timoci Bavadra.

NFP always has a significant iTaukei component, but an Indo-Fijian has always been the leader.

To have either Mr Tikoduadua or Ms Qereqeretabua as leader would be a departure from that convention. Whether that would be beneficial for the party or not is unclear. But Mr Singh believed it would.

The other issue, it is understood, that Mr Singh proposed was for the NFP to coalesce with The People’s Alliance before the election or join Mr Rabuka under one banner.

Again, Mr Singh received a cold reception. Mr Prasad, no doubt has not forgotten the humiliation the NFP suffered in the 1999 election debacle when Mr Reddy took the party to the poll under a coalition with Mr Rabuka’s Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei (SVT).

For the first time in its history, the NFP scored zilch seats. That experience will continue to haunt the NFP and influence any decision to join hands with Mr Rabuka before the election.

Mr Singh has kept his options open after leaving the NFP. He likes what he sees in Mr Rabuka’s party, and he was to announce his future plans this Friday. It is understood he has delayed that announcement indefinitely so that he can focus on some urgent matters and have more time to think through his political future.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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