I am replying to your Guyana Review commentary captioned ‘Politics: Bharrat Jagdeo and the future of the People’s Progressive Party’ (SN, September 29) assessing the prospects of the top six contenders of the ruling party in getting the nomination as its presidential candidate.
As the writer correctly penned, I don’t think President Jagdeo is going to be the candidate because he will not be able to amend the constitution (by legislation or referendum) to extend his term in office. Moses Nagamootoo is not acceptable because party officials say he is not a team player and has found himself often criticizing the party and the government. Frank Anthony and Robert Persaud are too green and don’t have much support within the Ex Co which chooses the candidate to be ratified by the Central Committee.
This leaves the choice between General Secretary Donald Ramotar and National Assembly Speaker Ralph Ramkarran. The selection of the candidate will be manipulated by those who control the Ex Co rather than properly debated as to the merits and demerits of the best prospects.
Using any measurement, objectively speaking, Ramkarran, by far, is a better choice because he is more respected and is considered a more fair-minded individual than Ramotar. Ramkarran is a decent person and above the fray of dirty politics.
He is a democrat with a clean reputation. He is a man of integrity and honesty and will take Guyana forward. Business people and the middle class feel at ease with him.
Ramotar, on the other hand, represents the PPP status quo and the business community and the educated classes are afraid of him. Also, he is not above the political fray and will drive supporters away from the PPP.
The writer is correct to note that Ramotar received more votes than Ramkarran at the PPP Congress last August. But it should be noted that a popularity contest cannot be judged by votes at Congress because of the faulty method of selecting delegates and the biased campaigning for support at the Congress.
It is not a truly democratic affair with all the presidential prospects getting a fair and equal chance to win support. It was a manipulated affair to promote some and destroy other candidates. It is well known there was heavy anti-Ramkarran campaigning at the Diamond Congress with leading PPP officials telling delegates (and using material inducements and patronage) not to vote for Ramkarran while at the same time instructing the delegates to vote for Ramotar.
I should also note that at various public functions, President Jagdeo has been promoting Ramotar while Ramkarran does not get similar kudos or public exposure.
Ramkarran is on his own while Ramotar uses the party machinery to promote his presidential ambition moving around the country to speak at various forums. In spite of all of these resources, Ramotar received the support of only 637 delegates out of over 1100.
I believe opinion polls give a better evaluation of the presidential prospects. And three Nacta polls commissioned and or published in your paper over the last year rank Ramkarran above Ramotar. I believe if Ramkarran were to be the PPP presidential candidate, he will receive a majority of the votes at the next election allowing the PPP to retain its majority in parliament. I have serious reservations about Ramotar winning majority support, meaning if Ramotar were selected as the party standard-bearer, the PPP will have serious difficulty passing legislation in parliament by not having a majority. May I suggest your paper commission another poll to test the popularity of the two prospects to determine who will win more support.