March 83 will remain a sad day in the glorious history of the MMM and an even sadder one for Mauritius.
We saw how the U.S. could have played a hand in the dismissal of President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim.
We know how India has a heavy hand in the affairs of Mauritius.
We also know how France and China are playing their cards over the territorial integrity of Mauritius.
While Mauritians believe they are totally free to decide their future and to decide who will be their Prime Minister, “Il ya anguille sous roche!”.
This brings us back to 1983, with ‘la grande cassure‘ of the MMM-PSM government and the breaking of the MMM in two.
What really happened in 1983 that led to the split within the MMM?
This, in turn, led to the creation of the MSM, coupled with the dissolution of the PSM. Which ‘forces occult’ were behind this all?
At the peak of the infighting in that fatal date of March 22, 1983, both Paul Berenger and Sir Aneerood Jugnauth were duped.
SAJ learned that the French had sent their frigates to surround Mauritius and carry out a coup against him.
He panicked and reeled against Berenger.
On his side, Berenger heard the Indian navy was near Mauritius to give full support to SAJ.
SAJ told his leftenants, including highly placed lawyer Madan Dulloo, on his beliefs the French were already here.
He was in his usual, inconsolable, but angry that Berenger would have done such a thing.
However, there were no French warships in the waters of Mauritius with that intent.
Berenger never made any deals with the French to back him up in a coup against SAJ.
Nevertheless, it is widely reported that the Indian navy was on the way in what is now known as Operation Lal Dora.
We have the official version in local newspapers, that is MMM leader Paul Berenger was main actor behind the split.
Some of the local papers attacked Harish Boodhoo for his visit to India.
The MMM’s organ, Le Militant, pointed fingers at Sir Aneerood Jugnauth and Boodhoo for the split.
It alleged the PSM was at that time back to the Labour party, from where it originated. Much of the MMM group accused Boodhoo of the split.
Though history now tells us that Berenger started it all, and it culminated to the point of no return for the MMM-PSM.
Young Parliamentarian Alan Ganoo – who came back from a trip to Africa – went right in the middle of the action.
He did recall for WFTV how he felt about 1983: “It should not have happened,” he lamented.
Reading through international portals, we can get a feel for what actually happened.
The Diplomat carried this article, of which we have some extracts here:
By mid-1983, when the rift between Jugnauth and Berenger had manifested more clearly and fears of a coup were real, top Indian military planners were readying the country for military intervention.
“Here I recommend referring to Brewster and Rai’s paper, where they detail the tremendous military planning and bureaucratic hurdles that ultimately left Operation Lal Dora, the name for India’s planned intervention in Mauritius, dead-on-arrival,” wrote the writer.
The Indian Army and Navy exhibited a tremendous lack of coordination.
Their most senior leaders saw each other as adversaries and this killed operation Lal Dora.
But the operation took place and SAJ as well as Boodhoo would have been aware of these manipulations, observers confirmed to WFTV.
It is also clear that India could not carry out such an operation.
It’s modest naval and amphibious warfare capabilities prevented it.
“But at the time a stumbling leadership and strategic disagreements at the top levels of political and military planning sealed the operation’s fate,” wrote y Ankit Panda.
While Indira Gandhi ultimately shelved the operation, it was too late to salvage the great alliance that has deteriorated in Mauritius.
Indeed, it is Berenger who started it all but he did not end it alone.
SAJ was irreconcilable and did not want to work with Berenger anymore than he wanted to way back in October 82.
“In the end, there was no coup, suggesting that rumours of an Indian mobilization adequately conveyed New Delhi’s resolve in supporting Jugnauth at the time.
“From 1983 onward, India’s influence in Mauritius has persisted,” The Diplomat wrote.
The Diplomat adds that while the episode represented an interesting moment of strategic convergence between the United States and India at the height of the Cold War, it did not lead to any real sustained cooperation in the Indian Ocean.
Today, New Delhi and Washington publicly acknowledge their convergent interests in the Indian Ocean region.
And it is true that both India and the U.S. are still meddling in our affairs!