The term ‘caucus’ has now taken on a derogatory connotation, thanks to the People’s Progressive Party, and sadly, this perversion is here to stay.
In the days of yore, this term evolved to mean a meeting of political party members (or a sub-group of members) in any community for the purpose of discussing and promoting the affairs of that particular party. What has now happened is that the PPP since May 2015 has been using this forum to frustrate the work of the Regional Democratic Councils and the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils and to direct these statutory bodies as to what they must do or cannot do. This was unheard of before May 2015 because the PPP was in government and saw no need to work against itself.
In his letter Mr Harbhajan strongly argued that the PPP/C councillors are uncooperative (‘The PPP does not want its NDC chairmen, councillors to cooperate with central, local government’ SN, Sept 9) although the Opposition Leader disputed this and said that they had valid reasons for not participating in certain events. Mr Harbhajan spoke about these caucuses which serve to give political direction to the RDCs and NDCs on what to do or not to do, what to say or not to say. It is political suicide for councillors to go against these instructions, and so their contributions are just limited to towing the PPP line. This is quite contrary to what is claimed by the PPP that these councillors have ‘opinions’ of their own.
At a recent caucus held with the No 52-74 NDC by the PPP at Freedom House branch at No 63 Village on Tuesday, 18th September, it was demonstrated that this caucus is paramount to the RDC and the NDC. At this caucus, a decision was made by the NDC to use the Superintendent of Works to operate the NDC tractor, since it is difficult to find operators who are willing to accept $3,000 per day, in addition to which the tractor is not needed at all times because of the nature of the work. This person agreed to work for a stipend of $15,000 per month which is a good bargain for the NDC. However, the PPP does not seem to think so. The head of this caucus called the Superintendent of Works and rescinded the NDC’s decision on the spot. He was told not to operate the tractor with immediate effect. Who is this man to go against such a decision and make a legitimate NDC’s decision null and void? What will Mr Anil Nandlall have to say to this? We know that Mr Nandlall always seeks to correct ‘illegalities’ committed by this government. This is not only illegal and vexatious; this is ‘party paramountcy’. This is barefacedness. This is hypocritical.
The Regional Vice Chairman and the PPP need to understand that they cannot and should not interfere in the running of the NDCs or RDCs. A decision made by the NDC should go back to the NDC for any change or amendment. Even the Chairman and the Overseer of the NDC cannot overturn a decision of the council made at its statutory meeting. Then to make it worse, only 5 of the 18 councilors were at the caucus. The majority knows fully well the political dictates which these caucuses produce. How can a caucus decision by the PPP warrant an on-the-spot revocation of an NDC decision? The PPP has no moral grounds to lecture this government on the efficacy of local government systems and how they can operate for the betterment of the communities and the Regions; they have failed during their 23 year in power and are failing again as an opposition. They run down the regions and the NDCs and are not trying to assist their cause now.
I am an independent councillor of the No 52-74 NDC and there are many more pressing concerns affecting the NDC, yet these are never discussed or resolved at the caucuses held. For instance, the NDC has been without an excavator for the past 8 months and if it was not for the intervention of Mr Harbhajan then we would have been more severely affected by the recent floods. But now that machine is gone and the NDC still has works to complete, but three members can only interfere to rescind the decision of the NDC to use the Superintendent of Works as a part-time tractor operator, a decision which is beneficial to the NDC. This is how the caucus is used ‒ to kill development.
What is Dr Jagdeo’s take on this?
No 52-74 NDC Councillor
Vice Chairman Works Committee