The race is on early for a presidential candidate for the PPP in the 2020 general and regional elections. It is touted already that there is serious infighting going on within the party leadership and among rank and file members as to who that person should be. As a Marxist-Leninist party, the PPP has supported opportunism both of the right and the left and has been charged with race-baiting at every recent election.
At the moment there are two front-runners for the presidency: Clement Rohee and Bharrat Jagdeo. During internal voting there has always been confrontation between the Ex-Co and Central Executive members because of hand-picking. This is where Jagdeo will continue to be favoured because the executive members are afraid to vote against him for fear of being marginalized within the party superstructure. In the past comrades had an idea how the party machine and the bureaucracy operated.
This kind of policy inevitably would lead to disagreement with the young leaders in the party who will never stand a chance of becoming president or holding a top position. There are many young and vibrant leaders who deserve a shot at the presidency. It has been reported that at every congress there was extensive fraud to keep certain comrades from becoming members of the Central Executive Committee. There is a growing belief that internal voting is so manipulated as to make change impossible. If this becomes true, democracy in the party is finished.
The party when in government treated its members and supporters badly, and now it is out of government it wants those same members and supporters to vote for them come 2020. My gut feeling is that no one will ever go back with them. Some ministers were so big you couldn’t talk to them, although you were rubbing shoulders with them on political platforms and in bottom house meetings; no one forgets these things easily. I myself had a horrible experience with one of the persons running for the presidency. He was a minister in the previous administration, and I called his phone to report a security matter which was endangering my life; he told me bluntly not to ever call him again at his home or office.
These were the kinds of comrades who when out of power knew you, but when they assumed power they treated you worse than a dog. That party has a lot of soul-searching to do; they took their Indian supporters for granted, and they felt that they would be there forever, so they were doing all sorts of things to hurt their own people, not knowing that one day those same people would turn against them and vote them out of office. Dr Jagan told me at a meeting that in a democratic country, a government can lose its power anytime if it does not treat its supporters well. It doesn’t mean you have to give them everything; all you do is hug and talk to them kindly.
Dr Jagan and LFS Burnham were smart and brilliant politicians; they knew how to keep their supporters behind them, not like this crop of politicians today who only think about themselves and their families. The PPP will have to go back to the drawing board and see why they lost two successive elections under Donald Ramotar and how they can correct those mistakes. The strength of a national democracy resides with the people and their institutions, and it is any party’s duty to harness this strength if they want to win elections and stay in power.