The results of the November 2011 general elections should be a wake-up call for the leadership of the PPP/C. Now more than ever, there is a need for introspection and a willingness to accept that the party has failed miserably to understand the hurt and betrayal felt by its traditional supporters – the Indians of this country. It will be a further act of denial if the PPP/C wants to clutch at straws to believe that it got any cross-over votes from African-Guyanese. Any simple analysis would reflect four basic truths: Africans voted solidly for APNU; Amerindian votes were divided among the AFC, APNU and PPP/C; the PPP/C won the presidency by virtue of its Indian support base; and lost the parliament on the basis of withdrawal of that support by significant sections of the Indian population. The Indians voiced their disgust at the PPP/C leadership by not voting and by transferring their support to Khemraj Ramjattan’s AFC.
Dr Cheddi Jagan built the PPP/C by dint of hard work, commitment and sacrifice. Mr Jagdeo destroyed the PPP/C through greed, arrogance and abuse of power.
The PPP/C election campaign was devoid of decency and coherence and trampled on middle class sensibilities, opening the party to ridicule for its vulgarity and crassness. It is the tragedy of our nation that Mr Jagdeo was placed on the national platform of the presidency and brought the PPP/C to disgrace. This is where I wish to take to task the leadership of the PPP/C for allowing a party that was rooted in fundamental decency and working class ideology, to become one that served the needs of a selected group and became mired in corruption and scandal.
It has to be a matter of shame that the PPP/C did not seek to rein in Mr Jagdeo, but allowed him to take a lead role in the campaign for the elections. I guess it was too much to expect that he would have conducted himself differently. Every decent minded person had a sense of revulsion when Mr Jagdeo referred to the media as carrion crows and vultures. He degenerated further by making his infamous ‘jackass’ comment. It was tragic to see him seeking to elevate such debased behaviour into some sort of virtue.
It was a ‘fitting end that the high point of the PPP/C campaign was the concert at the Providence Stadium where a largely Indian crowd was ‘treated’ to a performance by Destra. The inappropriateness and vulgarity of Destra’s performance will haunt Indian sensitivities for a long time. The image of a young Indian girl gyrating and mirroring the vulgarity of Destra was broadcast on national TV. This was PPP/C’s gift to Indians. Their disregard for the norms of respectful behaviour knew no limits and our disappointment and sense of betrayal and shame had no end.
The elections results could not have been different. This should be no shock or surprise. The campaign was outlandish and vulgar. Traditional supporters were shocked, undecided voters were horrified and the young people could not believe that the PPP/C expected them to give blind support. They rejected being taken for granted. The verdict is out; the electorate has rejected both Mr Jagdeo (this election must be seen as a referendum on him) and Mr Persaud as campaign manager and strategist.
If the campaign wasn’t bad enough the reaction of Mr Robert Persaud was one of abrasive belligerence, blaming Indians for the PPP/C’s loss of majority. Mr Persaud did not ask himself why large sections of the Indian population rejected the PPP/C. This is the tragedy, but it brings out two points: (a) how much the PPP/C has taken its traditional support base for granted, and (b) that the PPP/C has not recognized that the population is intelligent. It is clear that by and large our population has grown and outpaced key campaign strategists – Robert Persaud and Bharrat Jagdeo.
The time has now come for the PPP/C to save itself from itself. The first step in doing this is to ask Mr Jagdeo and his protégé Mr Persaud to remove themselves from the public life of this country.
Their continued presence and influence can only lead to a humiliating defeat at the next election. Thereafter, it is my considered view that President Donald Ramotar should call for a meeting extraordinaire with individuals and groups who may not be party members per se, but who are sympathetic to the PPP/Civic. A frank contribution by independently minded persons would be a healthy beginning on the way forward.