Addressing a PNCR conference on Saturday in Georgia, USA, President David Granger inveighed against elitism in the party and said a big question for members is how the party will retain office after 2020 when elections are to be held.
Reaching back into history and the circumstances of how the People’s National Congress (PNC) came to power in 1964 and subsequently how its leader, Forbes Burnham lobbied for Guyana’s independence, Leader of the now PNCR, Granger, told the party conference that the same diligent attitudes are needed now.
He urged members to condemn elitism if it is ever evident and not to forget that the party was birthed from poor “common folk” who wanted better for their nation.
“Most people were extremely poor even into the late 60s where an average salary was $70 dollars a month…The PNC was created as a party of a new time. We fought for independence, we fought for the West Indies Federation, we fought for the working class, and we fought to establish a multi ethnic party. We fought to bring rural and urban and hinterland together. We established a democratic party,” Granger said during his ‘Leader of the Party’ address at the North America Region conference.
And as he gave a timeline of how the then PNC came into office back in 1964, he reminded that many persons lost their lives in their work of supporting the party. The PNC entered office then in alliance with the United Force though the PPP had a plurality.
“And then there came a time when there were disturbances. I’m not trying to open old sores but trying to let people know the struggles our party went through…it was a period of arson and murder and violence,” he stressed, referring to 1962.
Pointing to the First-Past-the-Post system that was used then to elect governments, he told of the resistance of the People’s Progressive Party to a change to the Proportional Representation system. He boasted that in 1964 the coalition that was formed restored peace to the land.
And when the country gained independence in 1966, he said the PPP who had fought against the coalition sent only a small delegation to be part of what should have been a national celebration.
“Our party brought about reconciliation and settlement. Through a policy of social cohesion we brought about reconciliation and introduced education reforms,” he said. As is usually the case at PNCR events, there was no reference to the history of rigged elections between 1968 and 1985.
Naming infrastructural and other projects such as the University of Guyana Campus, the Skeldon to New Amsterdam Road and others, Granger boasted of a government with a vision for holistic development.
Noted too was the building of housing schemes, which he said came from the heart of a compassionate and humane government that was appalled to see its people living without basic amenities like a flushing toilet or in-house bathrooms and faucets.
And as it pertained to racial unity he reflected on Muslims recently using State House’s Benab at their festivals.
“My brothers and sisters, that is where I take my ideas from, my ideologies from and it is good for you to know that. The PNC is not a fly-by-night party. The PNC is a party of historical depth and vision. Today, therefore, as we come to the NAR conference, I see our coming together as a reaffirmation of all of these things that we have stood for the last 60 years,” he stressed.
He urged attendees to familiarize themselves with the country’s constitution so whatever decisions acted on will conform to and be guided by law.
“Our constitution, and I hope this General Secretary will ensure that our constitution is printed so that everybody should have it in their … breast pocket-I see it as a rule. A rule that is embedded in that constitution, and if you have a copy, you will see how the regions were reestablished. Rule 11 4 governs the conduct of elections at your annual regional conferences. Your presence here today is governed by rules in our constitution and this conference itself is testimony to the regularity and revitalization of our democracy,” he said.
“And whatever you will choose to discuss today and the weeks and months to come, I think there are several questions that you have to ask yourself as you look to the future. You have to ask yourself ‘how the PNC gained office in 1964?’ Ask yourself ‘how did the PNC remain in office and what did it do during that year?’ Ask yourself how the PNC (regained office) in 2015 and ask yourself how the PNC would retain office after 2020. These are big questions. This calls for work of our members in all regions,” he added.
The PNCR is represented in the governing coalition by virtue of its membership of APNU.
And as he culminated his address, the PNCR Leader went to quotations and scriptures from the Holy Bible, telling attendees that if they are not driven by a deep sense of faith we could end up like the “seed that fell by the wayside”, not living up to potential.
For he believes, he said, that if every party supporter knows that they have that support system of persons who believe in their potential, coupled with the will and faith in themselves, they can excel and by doing so build a dream nation that would be the envy of the world.
“Our party is based on the common people. God loves common people and it is why he made so much. That is them who come out in their numbers. You cannot establish an elite party,” he said
“I don’t want to see at a function some people eating and dining and others holding on a chain-link fence can’t get in. I am not saying you don’t need to make money we need to prevent the party from being divided in an elite and an ordinary man. You don’t get 207,000 votes by being elitist. By the highways or byways, we will work with the ordinary man,” he added.