The assumption by Bharrat Jagdeo of the position of General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has brought the party to a new stage. In history this date could very well go down as the time when the moorings of the party, anchored by Cheddi and Janet Jagan and others are now finally broken. This process started a while back, and became more noticeable with the passing of Cheddi Jagan.
The fight for the direction of the party to preserve its pro-working class/farmer orientation and to shift to the support of big businesses was always clouded, and took the appearance of a struggle with personalities. No doubt some ‒ or more than some ‒ personal ambition played a part. Sometimes many of the persons who seem to be at loggerheads with each other were of the same orientation, eg, the Jagdeo-Nagamootoo tussle. Both wanted to go in the same direction and they are of the same mould, but their personal ambitions clashed.
Even in that tussle the party’s progressive elements sided with Jagdeo, seeing him as the lesser of two evils. Now that battle seems inconsequential, since the results appear to be the same. The only difference is that Nagamootoo chose to collaborate with a party that is elitist, determined to get rich quick and not bashful about the tactics it uses to achieve its ends.
Jagdeo appears to be a fighter against the party and hopes to achieve the same end as Nagamootoo, using a different vehicle, the PPP. For some time now Jagdeo has been plotting the capture of the PPP. While President, he was generous to a few of the leaders, turning a blind eye to any of their wrongdoing. Most, if not all of these, have become the pillars on which he is building his edifice. On the way he made many temporary alliances and cast them aside as he took another step closer to his goal, that is the total control of the party.
Throughout his seemingly long campaign he gradually built a body of support comprising persons who are not interested in the working class or working class ideals.
One can just look at how little was said and done by the party at the closing of Wales Estate and the attack on sugar workers. This group is similar to those in the PNC elite interested in deal-making and amassing wealth for themselves. Every now and then they will make some ‘noise’ about the working people to mask their real orientation, and of course to maintain their support from that important working-class group.
Jagdeo had to make his move now for another reason. The APNU+AFC government is performing dismally. Its true corrupt and dictatorial tendencies have taken over. The economy is poorly managed and things are getting from bad to worse. The coalition is daily growing more and more unpopular. This can make it easy for the PPP to retake government.
Jagdeo’s main motivation is personal power. He cannot live without it. Staying in the PPP he had to grab all the power. This he hopes will be the catalyst for him to get back the presidency or put him in a position to choose a puppet to be there. The APNU+AFC is making it easy for him and his clique.
In his move towards the presidency he is moving to woo the international community, particularly the US. His speech at the last Congress calling on the party to move away from ‘isms’ and not to be trapped by “philosophy” was clearly a message to the US and the Western countries. He wanted to assure them that they had nothing to worry about with him at the helm.
Now his taking over of the PPP is giving flesh to that call. It is Jagan who is dead. Jagdeo is now killing his influence in the party that is almost dead as well as consolidating his hold. The sad thing in Guyana, now that the PPP has been captured, is that none of the parties or the political commentators give a darn about sovereignty and real independence.
All are willing to accept the wishes of the US as their own. Their wish is our command.
It was heartening to see a significant section of the party standing up and trying to hold on to the anchor placed by Cheddi Jagan and his colleagues in the early PPP.
It was a very good sign to see that young Frank Anthony stepped up to the plate in defence of the PPP’s longstanding tradition of real freedom and independence. This is what really matters. Jagdeo loves to talk about old people, but since Anthony is young he could not use that argument – he is the old man there!
It was good to see a decent young man, untouched by any allegation of corruption, even though he spent years in government, taking a stand for the poor and powerless, taking a stand to defend Jagan’s legacy. It was courageous of him to do so knowing that he was not likely to win.
He also knows that Jagdeo and his clique would not only try to marginalise him and those who supported him, but even get rid of them from the party. That was indeed brave of him.
Those who continue to struggle for the ideals of Jagan in this new and unfavourable local and international situation will face a difficult time. Their home, the PPP, is becoming more and more hostile to Jagan’s ideology and philosophy. However, like Jagan did in difficult conditions also, they should continue to fight for his ideals; they are the only thing worth fighting for – fighting for them is equivalent to fighting for the working class people of this country.
The dark night that has descended on Jagan’s legacy, now being attacked by APNU+AFC (Red House) and Jagdeo, will pass. It can be supressed for a while but it can never die. Anthony and his colleagues should not be daunted by this setback. They should push ahead, always remembering why Jagan began his fight, namely, to help the working and oppressed people of our country. A lot of suffering is out there. As Cheddi Jagan noted fifty years ago, “The struggle will be long and hard, but win we will”.
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