Labour Minister Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi grabbed the media spotlight last week with his call for government to remove racially discriminatory policies and scrap all controversial Bills.
He also called for the enactment of a Code of Conduct for all holders of high office and for the government to be guided by both the SDL and FLP manifestos.
Vayeshnoi’s comments delivered in Parliament in response to the President’s address, drove the media in a frenzy with speculation that he may have jeopardised the multi-party Cabinet.
Vayeshnoi’s comments copped the censure of some of his Labour Cabinet colleagues. Deputy Leader Poseci Bune described it as “embarrassing”, saying Vayeshnoi should realise he was now in government and not a Labour backbencher.
Another colleague, the Minister for Employment and Productivity Ragho Nand proclaimed emphatically that “it would be a sad” if the multi-party Cabinet were to collapse as a result of Vayeshnoi’s outburst.
After forcing such comments from his Labour colleagues, the Media then used them to speculate that the Labour Party was split on the issue.
Vayeshnoi, the Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources in Qarase’s Cabinet, valiantly stood by his comments despite being called to a meeting with the Prime Minister to explain.
The two afterwards declared the meeting was cordial, and focused on matters such as the collective responsibilities of the Cabinet.
Vayeshnoi said he was merely enunciating his Party’s policies and he would be guided by them even as a Minister.
The Nadroga MP is one of the most forthright members of the Labour Party known for his uncompromising stand on Party issues.
The Prime Minister said he would appoint a Cabinet sub-committee to study the manifestos Labour and SDL manifestos to see how they could be reconciled in terms of government policies.