LETTER: Genuine bipartisanship is needed to build this country

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Dear Editor,

Our country is facing many problems falling under social, political, economic, etc and there are workable solutions to almost all of the problems. But our political leaders from both sides of the divide are generally reluctant to address the problems because in not doing so (maintaining the status quo). They prefer to keep the people in ignorance encouraging them to fight each other on account of ethnic differences. People must accept this as a fact in our partisan politics and take measures to put an end to it — the people should assert their own power to hold politicians accountable. They must start demanding a say in the politics of the country if not through their ethnic party then directly.

The political leaders are not interested in finding solutions to the countless problems facing the population or bringing people together. They strive in ethnic conflict. So every time an opportunity avails itself to bring people together, the politicians play on ethnic insecurity exacerbating racial division, and so we can never find solutions to the mountains of problems confronting this small nation.

It is a truism that no progress can be achieved in our country if politicians refuse to work together and across party lines. This ideology of partisanship that existed for the last sixty years under the PNC and PPP is deeply entrenched in the institutions of the country and in the minds of people. It is almost impossible to penetrate the racial of political divisions both of which are intertwined.  But this racial and political partisanship has to end if our country is to realize its full potential. One group and one party cannot build the country on this own. Bipartisanship is needed.

People have to come together and force some kind of racial and political unity. And since politicians are not interested in bringing the population together, then the population must take the politics in their hands and force the two dominant parties to work together.  This can be done through civic groups or NGOs or through leadership at the community levels – leaders of community groups coming together across ethnic lines to address concerns and issues and hold the political leaders accountable.

And when I say force the political leaders to work together, I don’t mean getting them to pass bills in Parliament or simply to meet and discuss issues or make appointments that only serve the interests of the parties. I mean they must implement policies and programs to benefit all areas and all groups. I mean there must be genuine dialogues with all stakeholders at all times. I mean every single citizen must be involved in decision making. And the politicians must promote citizen involvement. And I mean appointing non-political people to varied offices and at state agencies. Political appointees will not address our problems. Instead they will carry out the programs of the political leaders. Civic appointees would pay greater attention to national concerns.

There must be genuine bi-partisanship which must be executed with sincerity and the community leaders must make this demand of their party or ethnic leaders. Some would say this is not possible and that it is “utopian rhetoric” to seek to get politicians of opposing parties and races to work together. But it is possible to bring the political leaders together if the people pressure their political group leaders that politics as usual would no longer be acceptable.

To get politicians to work together, people have to take politics in their own hands and end their total dependence on self-serving corrupt politicians. By now, the people should recognise that our dishonest politicians are not interested in their supporters or even in the country. Most of the politicians are only interested in themselves. And the people have the power to end this type of self-serving politics. Only when the people realize their own power and reject the politicians and start exercising their power will the politicians begin to do things to benefit the country.

Yours truly,

Vishnu Bisram

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