General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Clement Rohee, was mum yesterday on former PPP stalwart, Ralph Ramkarran’s contention that former President Bharrat Jagdeo was aiming for a new term in office and this was a direct challenge to President Donald Ramotar and the party.
Rohee told members of the media during yesterday’s press briefing at the party’s Freedom House headquarters that he was not going to venture into any discussion on Ramkarran’s allegations and critique.
Rohee stated though that the PPP/C has a membership of thousands and the notion of former president Jagdeo exerting influence and power over them was not the case.
Ramkarran, in a column published in the last Sunday Stabroek stated that “Jagdeo succeeded in doing what the British, Americans and the People’s National Congress together could not do – deliver an electoral disaster to the party of Cheddi Jagan.”
Ramkarran adverted to a news item published in the Guyana Times and later in the state-owned Guyana Chronicle which reported on an alleged opposition poll which showed that Jagdeo would be the most effective candidate against the opposition. The opposition has refuted that such a poll was ever conducted.
Ramkarran, who spent nearly 50 years in the PPP/C before resigning, said that resistance to a third term for Jagdeo had scuppered this campaign in 2011 but that “now that elections appear to be on the horizon Dr Jagdeo is beginning to drool with renewed ambition and hunger for high office”.
Ramkarran stated that Jagdeo during his tenure as President had broken down independent thinkers within the party and the party’s leadership in his quest to control it. “Independent voices were driven out, stilled or subverted,” Ramkarran said.
He added that new party members were easily manipulated because they were enticed with “career opportunities and devoid of ideological commitment or political history, easily fell in line and learnt that exaggerated and sycophantic displays of loyalty offered security of tenure and protection.”
Ramkarran blamed the party leadership for succumbing to the Jagdeo effect. He stated that it was only after then General Secretary of the PPP and now President Ramotar took a stand against the third term did the notion begin to die down. How-ever, President Ramotar has not taken decisive action to curb Jagdeo’s influence over the party and government since the November 28, 2011 general elections, according to Ramkarran.
“Unless the Jagdeo grip on the throat of the party and government is prised opened by president Ramotar, finger by finger, and he nurtures the leaders mentioned above, and they in turn show some political courage the intellectual successors of Dr Jagdeo will eventually inherit the leadership of the party and government and he and they will have the last laugh,” Ramkarran stated.
Observers say that the fact that the state media would openly publish an article insinuating that the former president was the only member of the party capable of winning a majority vote is a sign of divisions within the PPP and also continuing influence by the Jagdeo camp in state enterprises like the Guyana Chronicle.