Before even setting a foot in the House of Representatives, parliamentary neophyte Vandana Mohit managed to offend public sensitivity with the callous comment that Covid was a case of karma against the People’s National Movement (PNM).
Challenged on the insensitive illogic of her social media post, Ms Mohit, the United National Congress’ (UNC) MP for Chaguanas East, could not find the humility to apologise. Instead she chose the wrong-and-strong option of standing by the statement, lecturing critics and self-righteously holding herself up as “strong”, all the while digging herself deeper into the hole.
In drawing a karmic connection between the spread of Covid-19 and the PNM, MP Mohit either failed to recognise or could not care that the logical extension of that position was that karma was at play in the case of the 1,800 persons who have fallen victim to coronavirus, including the 25 dead as of yesterday morning, and the many thousands more who have endured the anxiety of waiting for tests results. Since we cannot believe her intention could have been so insensitive, we take it as just another flippant cheap shot from a thoughtless politician.
If MP Mohit’s point was to take issue with the ruling party’s management of the pandemic, she could have distinguished herself with a credible, well-argued position instead of throwing words for the base to lap up.
This is a disappointing start for a young politician who has been given the opportunity to represent all the constituents of Chaguanas East, including the 66 per cent of the constituency who did not vote for her. Given the extent of Covid-19 spread, it is a safe guess that some of those constituents are also affected which leaves us to wonder what words of comfort she has for them.
Any rational person expecting that Ms Mohit and her generation of politicians will bring a breath of fresh air to national politics would have been disappointed by her statement and even more so by her defiant response to being criticised.
While “thousands” of her supporters may have applauded, as she claimed, there are hundreds of thousands who would have been left shaking their heads, including within the UNC itself where a high-profile member and former Cabinet minister has only just been released from hospital after being treated for Covid-19.
All of this being said, Ms Mohit’s bad start does not have to translate into a sub-par political career if she can lift her game. There is a time and place for picong and playing to the gallery, which is what she suggested in telling people to lighten up. However, a deadly pandemic is neither the topic nor the time. Instead of going on the offensive, Ms Mohit should seize the experience as a learning opportunity. As she should have discovered from some of the experiences of her political colleagues, not every inside joke is funny on the outside.
We hope she will chalk this one up to experience, re-frame her perspective from campaign to representation and bring to the service of her constituents and the country the best of which she is capable.