Alfred Bhulai, in a comment in your edition of July 4, mentions my letter of April 27 in which I wrote that one possible reason for the PNC’s silence on the election rigging issue may be its concern with the legal repercussions any ‘confession’ on its part may release into the judicial system.
Perhaps we need also to look at the total absence of consequence that the parties, most of them, enjoy while shamefully or even gleefully carrying around the millstone of past ‘crimes.’
True, there has been no comment since by anyone in the PNC on what has long been a standing accusation. Nor has there been a positive response by the PPP to calls from its enemies for a commission of enquiry into Roger Khan related activities that would go beyond the role of former Home Affairs Minister Gajraj. Similarly, the WPA, a major force in the seventies, has been excessively modest about its organisation of an armed unit during the time of resistance. It has to be admitted then, that, in some measure, the people supporting each party were less concerned about the ethics or legality of the particular illegality than they were about the situation the illegality was felt to remedy.
So, the problem was not, for many PNC supporters, the rigging itself, it was essentially that the government that rigged itself in power had grown insensitive and arrogant at its centre and brutish at its fringes. A one party state, as per the communist nations the PPP wished to admire and emulate, could have been declared, for example. Or the constitution changed.
The same goes for the crime spree of the last decade. The Phantom Squad wiped out mostly people felt to be objectionable by large segments of the population and particularly so by PPP supporters. And the WPA’s arming itself was considered by the fed-up a justifiable measure given the circumstances. The people, generally, understand and supported in silent complicity the excesses, illegalities or pretences of this or that party. The parties lost and lose nothing by their silence.
Let us say then that the fig leaf of propriety in which we are all, politician or private citizen, unfailingly clothed, brings with it a certain prudence in our public pronouncements.
Each party, we observe, stalks the land unmolested by its supporters on certain delicate questions and with its bundle of secrets safely locked in the sarcophagus of its past. For the people agree that, objectively, its political party can claim, as did Tacuma Ogunseye recently, that circumstances permitted, imposed even, a strategy of “by any means necessary” at this time or that. One suspects that, like the Cubana bombing or politically inspired assassinations everywhere, a certain category of crime becomes a ‘state secret’ and is made to sit on the conscience as serving a higher end or better yet, is legitimised by the conditions of the age.
Yet, in the give and take of campaigning, the PNC will be seen to cringe and shift its gaze when the subject of its past is raised. Or to knock back with a counter-accusation from the list of crimes and indiscretions in which the PPP has long since garlanded itself. Effective as scoring points, the counter-accusation does not however relieve some ordinary citizen of his suspicion that the rigging is the original cause his growth was stunted by dhal deprivation in the early days of his youth. Or that Ganesh consistently ignored his supplication for the reason that the offering was rice, not wheat, thus delaying by five years the date on which his papers came through.
This is if we are to believe Vishnu Bisram. These past weeks I read Mr Bisram arguing thunderously that ninety per cent (I exaggerate here) of the banned and restricted products were destined for puja or Quran Sharif.
I am entirely convinced after reflection, that the Hindu-Guyanese arguing that he needed that flour and aloo for the Gods, and representing perhaps thirty per cent of the population, should have been given bonds to uplift a kilo weekly from the Knowledge Sharing Institute, to which he repairs with a certificate of good standing attesting to his membership of this or that mandir. Issued by a party-approved pandit of course. So no corruption could have been possible. Or could it?