I have read Mr Ramkarran’s column of December 2, 2012 captioned ‘The PPP and the challenges ahead,’ and must acknowledge his bravery in making so public and seemingly honest an assessment of the PPP’s attitude to the political realities of Guyana and his attempts to suggest and recommend a path forward for his party’s resurrection. For example, after analysing the reduction in the voting support of the party over the years 1992 to 2011 he proceeds to suggest that to reverse this the party must enunciate an ideology that clearly comports with the best instincts (or aspirations) of its supporters so as to remain relevant. This is particularly essential as the new generation, since the demise of the old guard, is not sufficiently au fait with the travails of the PPP and its aspirations during that period. He acknowledges that the old Marxist/socialist ideology of the Jagans is now outmoded and must be replaced by some social commitment to the people and a review of the party’s constitutional structure to give its members a greater sense of identity with the party and its leadership.
He has however misstated the ideological bent of the PPP. The PPP was never bound by the strictures that encumbered the development of socialist ideals. The PPP bound itself in its own strictures by foregoing the opportunity to join with the Burnham government in nationalizing the bauxite and sugar industries. The PPP never had a Marxist/socialist ideology despite the ranting of the Jagans for the simple reason that it could never dream of nationalizing the private enterprises of its wealthy patrons. Dr Jagan never promoted a single socialist activity in all his political life but merely offered conditional support to the Burnham government in its nationalization of expatriate enterprises.
It is true that the PNC government incurred the wrath of many of its supporters when it became obsessed with retaining political power. This was indeed a failing of that party for if it had retained the support of the United Force it would not have ceded power to the PPP at any time. With the alienation of the UF its supporters departed the shores of Guyana to seek their fortunes in northern lands. The opposition to that tyrannical regime did not come from the PPP but from the WPA led by Walter Rodney who sought to wrest power from Burnham with unfortunate consequences. To postulate that the PPP should now readjust its socialist past in order to become more flexible in its dealings with the capitalists‘ world is a pipe dream, for it will continue to be held hostage to the rapacious greed of its capitalist patrons. To claim that the PPP “has distinguished itself from the PNC and other parties by its history and struggles for independence and against PNC’s authoritarian rule” is a fantasy. First, the PPP that led the struggle for independence had as much input from those who subsequently formed the PNC, and secondly I cannot remember a single incident where the official defiance of the authoritarian rule of the PNC was led by the PPP. The credit for that goes to the WPA alone. I will not deal with the success of the current PPP government – if that is what it is called – for it is evidently lacking in any critical or intellectual content.
Mr Ramkarran claims that Dr Jagan’s support for shared government was a device to bring to an end the perpetual political instability that one party rule would inevitably bring, and supports his refusal to join with the WPA in a government of national unity. This is a lame excuse for Dr Jagan’s fear of Walter Rodney and his attempt to back away from a union which would have been anathema to his Indian supporters. They did not want any dealing with an African political leader – not after Burnham – and that is the plain truth. Mr Ramkarran’s claim that Dr Jagan “reached out to supporters, friends, and even
critics in unorganized or organized groups” to bring about a rapprochement with the PNC is patently false. If not, such efforts would have been merely to keep up appearances of an unbiased and open minded leader wishing the best for Guyana. We know that there is no such a person and to appeal to the present leadership to follow that course is tantamount to blowing in the wind.
I must however commend Mr Ramkarran for his effort to restructure the PPP, and if his advice is heeded it might just do the trick. But I doubt it will.