Test­ing Times Ahead For NFP Over GCC

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If sup­port­ers are con­fused with the di­rec­tion the Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion Party ( NFP) is tak­ing, they can­not be blamed. NFP leader Bi­man Prasad and Pres­i­dent Roko Tupou Drau­nidalo sup­ported a pe­ti­tion in Par­lia­ment this week to re-es­tab­lish the Great Coun­cil of Chiefs. The mo­tion is to al­low the pub­lic to make sub­mis­sions on the sub­ject be­fore a Stand­ing Com­mit­tee. It was de­feated in Par­lia­ment. Mr Prasad said what he wanted to con­trib­ute to the mo­tion by SODELPA MP Vil­iame Ga­voka was “not the mer­its or de­mer­its” of re-es­tab­lish­ing the GCC but it was about the pe­ti­tion. He said the NFP’s po­si­tion on the GCC had not changed from be­fore the 2014 gen­eral elec­tion that the pub­lic was not con­sulted in its abo­li­tion. Roko Tupou said the pe­ti­tion “al­most aligns with our party pol­icy on the mat­ter of the GCC.”

It is dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand that a party whose pre­dom­i­nantly In­doFi­jian mem­bers suf­fered in the 1987 coups and even the 2000 coup would sup­port SODELPA on GCC. The GCC role in the coups has come un­der the mi­cro­scope over the years. For­mer NFP leader Jai Ram Reddy found out the hard way when he tried to work with Si­tiveni Rabuka, the 1987 coup leader, in the 1999 gen­eral elec­tion. The NFP was an­ni­hi­lated, fail­ing to win a sin­gle seat. In 2014, it bounced back with three seats, only be­cause the once pow­er­ful Fiji Labour Party and its ri­val, the Peo­ple’s Demo­cratic Party failed mis­er­ably.

A size­able por­tion of its sup­port came from the iTaukei vot­ers who fol­lowed Roko Tupou into the par-

ty. It is this sup­port that the NFP is bank­ing on to con­sol­i­date its po­si­tion for the 2018 elec­tion. Roko Tupou works closely with Op­po­si­tion Leader Ro Tei­mumu Kepa. She car­ries a pow­er­ful in­flu­ence in the NFP and the link be­tween NFP and SODELPA. But that was tested in 2014 when In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi spoke in a spe­cial par­lia­men­tary ses­sion Suva. SODELPA boy­cotted over dif­fer­ences with Govern­ment. The three NFP MPs at­tended. Two years from the 2018 gen­eral elec­tion, NFP is likely to align it­self more with SODELPA as it hunts down the iTaukei votes. But it could get a back­lash from the Indo-Fi­jian sup­port­ers. It is test­ing time ahead for the NFP.

It is true that pol­i­tics at­tracts strange bed­fel­lows.

Photo: Vil­imoni Va­ganalau

Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion Party (NFP) Op­po­si­tion mem­bers Roko Tupou Drau­nidalo (left), and Bi­man Prasad out­side Par­lia­ment this week.

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