Testing Times Ahead For NFP Over GCC
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.
National Federation Party (NFP) Opposition members Roko Tupou Draunidalo (left), and Biman Prasad outside Parliament this week.