Despite the uncertainty regarding the future of his television station, CN Sharma says that he is willing and ready to contest the upcoming regional and general elections even it if means campaigning the old fashioned way.
Sharma, who is the Manag-ing Director of Channel Six, is still awaiting a decision by President Bharrat Jagdeo as to whether his station’s licence will be suspended. The Presi-dent, during a press briefing on Friday, said that he will send his decision in writing to Sharma this week.
During a recent interview with this newspaper, Sharma, who intends to lead the Justice For All Party (JFAP) at the upcoming elections, said that he believes he is being placed under intense scrutiny because the authorities are aware that his station is critical to his campaign. In a previous interview in May, Sharma, mindful of his fragile health and legal troubles, said that his campaign would be restricted to his television station.
“The most powerful campaign in this country is the media …” Sharma told this newspaper recently. He said that even if the ruling is not in his favour, he will still contest the elections. “I will still campaign. I will go on the streets. I will use newspapers, print handbills and go out… [just], how Burnham and Jagan use to do it and they ain had television station,” he said. “I would go to bottom house meetings… how Jesus Christ win a campaign? He didn’t have television or radio,” he continued.
Sharma, who will be campaigning with Geoffrey Sankies as his prime ministerial candidate, believes that he stands a better chance this time around. “I think that after the people suffer for so long, 19 years, I think that is enough for them. They will make a change. If they don’t make a change now, then they will never be able to make a change,” he said.
He also pointed to the changes in presidential candidates. “We have a new presidential candidate for the PPP, we have a new presidential candidate for the PNC and we have a new presidential candidate for the AFC,” he said. So there will be a change. We will have change,” he said. He said that voting along racial lines is still alive in Guyana. “In Guyana people are not voting for policy. They vote for, I must say race. Black people want Black people to rule, Indian people want Indian people to rule,” he said. Sharma’s said that his campaign is based on issues that matter to the people. “I’ve already protested against the VAT, GPL, high cost of living,” he noted.
Despite his legal battles, Sharma says he remains popular and said that he still gets a heartwarming reaction whenever he visits communities and villages. He pointed to polls conducted by NACTA which have indicated that he is still the most popular politician in the country. “What the NACTA poll is saying is based on some truth; if they can turn into votes I win,” he said. Referring to past elections, Sharma said he believes he has he won seats in the National Assembly but was denied them because of various obstacles. This time around he hopes that things work in his favour and that his party gets represented in the National Assembly.
Questioned about the decision to reopen the claims and objections period to facilitate the registration of persons who were previously unable to register, Sharma said he was not in favour of this given the low voter turnout at the last election. “I really disagree with that. I don’t know if the government smelt something… what is the purpose of opening that for 5,000 or 6,000 people?” he queried, adding that there was an extremely low voter turnout at the 2006 elections. “People are still complaining about they can’t get their birth certificate,” he said.
He believes that the government is biding time to do some cleaning up. “It’s a clean-up campaign… build better roads… clean the drains, clean the canals. Is everybody know that. It’s not a secret,” he said.