Former President Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday said that the opposition APNU+AFC alliance does not represent change and has stymied development while also accusing it of practising racism.
“The past three years must have been a nightmare for (President Donald) Ramotar,” he said, while insisting that the opposition has tried to stymie every plan that the government has put forward. “And Donald you are a democratic man, sometimes we need to administer something else you know, some kicks up some asses too,” the former president asserted.
The PPP leadership was in Babu John, Berbice yesterday to commemorate the 18th death anniversary of former President of Guyana and founder of the PPP Dr Cheddi Jagan and Jagdeo was in clear campaign mode as he called on opposition leaders to come clean on their record. In a speech that lasted just over 31 minutes, the former president garnered the most cheers from the crowd as he went into attack mode.
He said that despite their attempts, the opposition cannot change what the PPP has accomplished. “And the thing that bothers me is that the same people who snatched those freedoms away from us. They have come back in new guises,” he said while accusing APNU point man on finance, Carl Greenidge of presiding over the destruction of the economy.
“And (APNU leader David) Granger was in the army when the ballots were stolen. He was in the army when the guns went missing that we found with the criminals,” Jagdeo said, repeating allegations he had made during his presidency, while adding that the Opposition Leader was in a senior position in the army when former WPA leader Dr Walter Rodney was killed. “We believe that people have to come to the table if they are seeking public office and account for their record and Granger must account for his record to the people of this country before he attempts to be their president because how do we know he’s not gonna return to that period,” Jagdeo asserted.
He said that Granger’s economic strategy, mindset, and philosophy is dominated by “that period of Burnhamism.” He asserted that the APNU+AFC alliance have “gone back” to the old Burnham philosophy of three vice-presidents, a Prime Minister and a President. He also said that the alliance wants to reinstitute national service. “They argue that Jagdeo pension will break the treasury but they have five persons now that this nation will have to carry…and they talk about cutting costs,” he declared.
“This is all age old Burnhamism, vintage Burnhamism and because Granger, I don’t want to say anything but he’s getting up there in age and he is stuck in that mindset, the time warp of the 70s and the 80s,” the former president said. He added that he was not surprised when one of his former ministers, Dr Henry Jeffrey who he labelled “one of their biggest lovers” called Granger’s speech at the launch of the APNU+AFC alliance “fluff.”
Jagdeo said that the opposition has opposed projects proposed by the PPP but have no plans of their own. He said that the opposition say they are the change but he said that AFC leader Khemraj Ramjattan, Granger, Greenidge, and the Alliance’s Prime Ministerial candidate Moses Nagamootoo, among others, have been around for “donkey years.”
“They been around, they’re not change,” he asserted. “They’ve been changing their names, that doesn’t change the substance of the opposition.”
In noting the PPP’s support for the sugar industry, Jagdeo asserted that the opposition “like to make things all about racism” but the industry has helped all Guyanese. Under the PPP, there was also the largest expansion of housing and land ownership in Guyana’s history, he said. “Is not only Jagdeo and a couple ministers who have big houses,” he declared. “When we talk change, it’s not just about slogans…we’re talking about reality,” he added. “The change has to be about real things. It can’t be a rhetorical gaff about change.”
He also accused the opposition of practising racism. “We have to be very careful, we have to be careful about the racism, the racism that they try to portray, they’ve already started which is the usual thing with them, they do the ethnic count,” Jagdeo said adding that the opposition say that a lot of Indians have migrated but, according to him, people are returning to the country.
He said that a statement by Nagamootoo that he will deliver 11 000 Indians to the opposition amounts to an “ethnic” kind of count. “They consistently, they shout about racism of the PPP but they practise racism”, he charged.
The former president also said that it must be naïveté or desperation on the part of the AFC to link up with APNU. The leadership of that party betrayed its supporters and will soon be out in the cold, he declared. According to Jagdeo, on Nomination Day, the Leader of the List – who will decide who will enter parliament – is likely to be Granger and the AFC is “going to be in for a rude awakening.”
“There is no AFC after nomination day,” he declared. “There is only one list of candidates they can put up and one head of that list and Granger I predict shall be the head of that list,” he said, while adding that this means that the AFC will have no leverage “It’s going to get even worse for them,” he declared.
The opposition alliance have said that the Leader of the List will come from civil society.
The former president said that the late president Dr Cheddi Jagan’s vision for Guyana remains strong. “We need soldiers to make that vision a reality and the soldiers here have to first of all ensure that on May 11 we win this one overwhelmingly,” he said, while adding that in a two-horse race everyone matters.
Earlier, he had welcomed the PPP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Elisabeth Harper to the platform. “Elisabeth we are happy to have you on board. We know of your capacity for hard work, your patriotism, your love for the country. And the attack has already started. It will be vile against you. Ignore them. Let your dignity and strong character shine through like our Prime Minister did,” he said.