Does the PPP really have a fear of the PNC?
I refer to Mr Ralph Ramkarran’s column, ‘The PPP’s enduring fears‘ (SN, January 14). The fundamental premise of Mr Ramkarran’s polemic is that since the birth of the PNC in the mid-fifties, the PPP as a government and as a political organization has had to live in fear of the PNC’s relentless pursuit to weaken it. Mr Ramkarran did trace that fear further back as early as when the PPP government under Jagan and Burnham was removed by the Colonial Office in London. But since ninety eight per cent of his thesis deals with the permanent stalking of the PPP by the PNC I will bypass that earlier period.
Mr Ramkarran has boldly proclaimed in his essay that to understand the nature of the PPP and its behaviour in government you have to comprehend what the PNC has done to the PPP for over fifty years right up to 2013. This is too simplistic an argument on the nature of the PPP and is really too much of a black and white picture. But let us say that Mr Ramkarran is right (though he is almost 90 per cent wrong in his treatment of the nature of the PPP), all readers whether educated or not are bound to ask a question which I doubt Mr Ramkarran will even attempt to answer – how did they cope with the stalking?
Any psychologist would tell you that there are only two ways to deal with fear. If you don’t want help then the fear will inevitably destroy you. If you want to survive then confront it. The textbook has only one approach to help a person with fear – strive most sincerely to overcome it. Mr Ramkarran does not delineate a description of how the PPP has tried to do that. On the contrary, he gives up by saying the PPP just lives in trepidation of the PNC.
Mr Ramkarran has argued that once the PNC is around then all you can expect from the PPP is fear of its competitor. Not good news for those who live in Guyana. How can such an organization bring stability to a country? Is Mr Ramkarran telling us that once the PNC remains in existence then the PPP will not try to overcome the trepidation but run Guyana with perpetual anxiety? Based on his polemic then, all Guyanese who are not supporters of the PPP should want it out of office because it is an entity being destroyed by permanent fright. If I was a voter why would I give a ballot to the PPP which is burdened with fear?
Let us move away from the inherent weakness of Mr Ramkarran’s dissertation and ask the question how did the PPP in the past and now deal with this phantasmagoria of fear that started over sixty years ago. One of the commonsensical methods used in battling fear is to find courage in another person (persons), an organization, group, etc. In other words, seek a relationship that provides comfort and protection out of which strength develops. A crucial statement in Mr Ramkarran’s outline of the PPP’s historical paranoia about the PNC was that the WPA fought the PNC government too.
Mr Ramkarran left out other organizations that the PPP had fraternal relations with apart from the WPA. A brief list includes the academics at UG, other political parties like Paul Tennassee’s DLM, the trade union movement, Guyana Human Rights Association, outstanding individuals like Yesu Persaud, Father Malcolm Rodrigues, etc. What is the relationship between the PPP and its government since the PNC lost power in 1992? The answer is there is none, with the WPA merging for electoral purposes with the PNC. How can one accept Mr Ramkarran’s claim when this fearful PPP has alienated all its fraternal allies while being afraid of the big, bad PNC?
It is either that Mr Ramkarran is wrong and no such paranoia existed or exists at the moment that he boldly talks about, or the PPP is indeed afraid of the PNC but is so obsessed with power that it is prepared to run the risk of being hunted down by the PNC rather than keeping friends that provide protection. But more importantly, Mr Ramkarran’s political career itself is a contradiction of his argument. A frightened, scared, paranoid PPP has continued to alienate its own stalwarts that it needs for its continued life. How can the PPP be scared of the PNC yet be prepared to mistreat priceless leaders like Ramkarran himself, Moses Nagamootoo, Khemraj Ramjattan, Boyo Ramsaroop, etc?
Finally, Mr Ramkarran asserted that the PPP has been saved from this perennial fear because it had a transformational figure in Dr Jagan and only another transformational personality can bring mental calm to the PPP. I don’t know if Mr Ramkaran understands what a transformational leader is. Briefly, it is someone with the capacity and rare talent to fundamentally reshape an entire nation which accepts the wisdom, sincerity and greatness of that person. Forbes Burnham and Cheddi Jagan were not transformative leaders. Half of the nation of Guyana never accepted them. Dr Jagan contested four elections (’57, ’61, ’64, ’92) and did not secure African Guyanese support. His four governments were racked by internecine political and industrial confrontations.