Making headlines recently was Rupert Roopnaraine’s letter to President Granger resigning from the APNU+AFC cabinet. In light of subsequent developments, it now appears that Dr Roopnaraine’s letter was nothing more than an offer to resign. A leap of faith as it were. Moreover, it doesn’t appear that his letter was written in a spirit of conviction but more in a spirit of compulsion, a tendency so characteristic of the WPA’s long established, modus operandi.
The WPA’s history is replete with examples of political miscalculations committed one after the other, the cumulative effect of which was the eventual miniaturization of the party, making it a shadow of what it once was during the heady days of the late seventies and mid-eighties.
Observers claim that Dr Roopnaraine’s letter was more like a casus belli. Had it been accepted, its impact would have had tsunami-like reverberations at the political level inside and outside the coalition. But President Granger, as an old military hand, having spotted the danger of being outmanoeuvred, opted for offence as the best form of defence. In this particular instance, he did not allow his military to override his political considerations.
Dr Roopnaraine’s resignation letter was probably intended for use more as a negotiating tool to bamboozle Mr Granger into granting concessions, either personal or to the WPA, rather than as a take it or leave it proposition. Given the quixotic nature of the letter and the fact that it was conceived without the President’s knowledge and consent, Mr Granger had no realistic option but to dismiss the notion that he had accepted the resignation; thus his positive assertion that Dr Roopnaraine, as far as the President was concerned, was still a member of his cabinet. President Granger then sought palliation by arranging a meeting with Dr Roopnaraine and by offering him state-sponsored medical attention locally or overseas once this was requested by Roopnaraine’s physicians.
And in so far as the day-to-day running of the so-called Ministry of Public Service was concerned, that was already being done by Minister Joe Harmon, so there was no need for Dr Roopnaraine to worry about the demands of what he was offered.
In the course of his engagement with Dr Roopnaraine, President Granger made sure he mentioned several times how he valued the former’s membership in the alliance and his cabinet. After all, Dr Roopnaraine brought the WPA to the alliance long before the AFC had made up its mind to hitch its wagon to the APNU.
The propitiations accepted and the cavils thus swept aside, Mr Granger suggested the need to convene an early meeting of the of the APNU’s executive council. As a means to achieving that end, the President successfully managed to get Dr Roopnaraine to recognize the egregious nature of his error in sending him a resignation letter without taking into account its all-round ramifications. Secondly, he got Dr Roopnaraine to withdraw the letter which was more intended as a negotiating instrument from his compadres rather than as a personal decision to turn his back on the coalition which had been so generous to him.
The solution offered by President Granger was that he and Dr Roopnaraine would work jointly to ‘strengthen’ the coalition while paying lip service to the Cummingsburg Accord and other shibboleths of unity. As far as Mr Granger is concerned, one troublesome ally in the form of the AFC is enough, and another with the WPA would be more than one bee in his bonnet.
After much shilly shallying at the long overdue meeting of the executive council, puffs of white smoke were to be seen emerging from the confines of State House. It was publicly announced that “the meeting was conducted in a fraternal manner,”; “that the parties engaged in a frank exchange of ideas and concerns about the strengths and shortcomings of the APNU” and that they were committed to a “speedy and amicable resolution of the concerns of its membership.”
In the end, President Granger thus succeeded in further de-revolutionizing a man who once stood with others at the centre of a fight against dictatorship in Guyana but who has now found himself an integral part of a continuously unfolding political compromise which his party has come to recognize as a disaster from which it must try to extricate itself if it is to continue in existence.
But the ship MV David G was still listing, and the strong possibility of mutiny was self-evident notwithstanding the efforts of the Captain to quell a rebellious and ambitious crew. It was only a matter of time.
Clement J Rohee