The combined opposition votes outnumber the ruling party’s. Political analysts should begin to find the reasons why the PPP lost so many votes and the opposition gained so many. One reason, according to many people I have spoken with in Guyana, is the role of Mr CN Sharma, TV broadcaster and host of the most popular TV programme in Guyana, ‘Voice of the People‘ which was previously known as ‘Justice for All.‘ The Justice For All Party, led by Mr Sharma, did not contest the elections but supported APNU. Mr Sharma’s role in helping APNU to almost pull off an upset victory cannot be underestimated. The opposition made a wise decision to team up with Sharma’s TV station and it outpolled the PPP.
Had the AFC been a little more successful in siphoning off PPP votes or had more PPP supporters stay home, APNU could have won the presidency and formed the government.
Mr Sharma is enormously well liked in Guyana. He is indisputably the most popular personality in the country in spite of controversies associated with him.
Mr Sharma’s support and endorsement on TV of APNU was very critical in APNU recapturing the PNC base. Some of the PNC support was captured by the AFC in 2006. Most of it went back to APNU last month and Sharma’s role in that move cannot be underestimated.
Had Mr Sharma contested the election, he would have won representation in parliament because of support he was attracting among the poorer classes who felt neglected. The support he attracted among the lower classes in traditional PNC communities went to APNU. Also, many disgruntled voters who felt Sharma was victimized cast ballots for APNU in solidarity with Sharma. In addition, Mr Sharma provided free TV time on his station to APNU’s leadership to make their case to vote for APNU. And it seemed to have worked. APNU used their free time on Mr Sharma’s TV very effectively appealing to their base.
AFC was also allotted air time to make a case for PPP supporters to abandon their traditional party and many did in Region 3, 4 and 5 giving AFC a strong finish. The PPP did not take advantage of free air time on CNS TV 6. The opposition used the free air time to lambaste the PPP winning the hearts of the opposition supporters and some traditional PPP-ites.
Mr Sharma and his TV station made a significant difference in this election and APNU and AFC are indebted to him. The question is whether the opposition recognizes the role of CNS TV 6 in what they perceive as a victory.