The PPP needs a complete transformation

Dear Editor,

I write in reference to Sean Ori’s suggestion that the ‘PPP should take back the party from Bharrat Jagdeo’ (SN, Dec 21) which is a riposte to my letter. As I indicated, Guyana is desperately in need of enlightened leadership to transform the country which is facing inevitable implosion from poor governance. We need good leadership. Oil money will not solve its deep-rooted problems or bring about economic development to ameliorate the problems as we have seen in so many countries with newly found oil wealth.

Guyana needs serious and wide-ranging socio-economic and political transformation to address burgeoning problems. A genuine transformational leader is desperately needed to undertake this job, since all earlier leaders failed in the mission. Both (make it all three) parties and their leaders have failed to transform the nation. But a new one is not in the offing. The PNC (APNU) and AFC have not given any signs that they will be transformational (as promised during the 2015 election campaign), and they are averse to advice to give the country good governance.

David Granger and Moses Nagamootoo were sold and touted as a transformational leaders who would promote healing and bring the varied ethnic groups together towards a harmonious society. The coming together of the two of them influenced the outcome of the elections of May 2015. They were leaders who were supposed to make Indians feel comfortable in joining the PNC. Instead, they have done the opposite, isolate and marginalize Indians making them most uncomfortable, causing them to return to the PPP.  Mr Granger has addressed concerns and served the interests of his constituents while Mr Nagamootoo has failed to do likewise for his constituents. The coalition government has been a major disappointment and there is no sign of improved rule is in the horizon. Because people are giving up hope in the APNU+AFC to be transformational as they promised, attention is redirected to the PPP to make it a transformational entity that will address national concerns and bring about development which has eluded the country. But the current PPP lacks a transformational leader and none is in the offing; Jagan was touted as a transformational leader, but he could not attract Black or Mixed or White support.

A transformational leader or party is one who helps to attract new or unaligned or cross-ethnic voters and who also motivates workers from all sections of society to help the party win an election. He (or it) is a team builder and motivates people to join him. He attracts vote mobilizers (canvassers or those who campaign for a party) to get voters to support the party to victory. The transformational leader or party embraces all and considers the advice and opinions of all. The transformational leader makes decisions by consensus and shares powers with others rather than governs in an authoritarian manner. And he appoints people from all sections of the society to important positions and in the leadership. That has been missing in our society in both parties when they governed at different times. Parties or leaders govern arrogantly and embrace ethnic tokenism that has failed the nation for 60 years. They make promises and don’t deliver on them. They disappoint their own as well as people from across the aisle. In short, the Guyana parties are failures. Either a new party is started that will be transformational or one of the behemoths is reformed. Starting a new party is difficult in our ethnically divided society.

As I suggested in my letter on which Mr Ori commented, the PPP needs a complete transformation in order to attract credible individuals like Ralph Ramkarran, Joe Singh, Chris Ram, Ryhaan Shah, Ravi Dev, Nigel Hinds, Marcel Gaskin, etc, who would help in the transformation process, making the party even more attractive to voters.  There is no doubt in my mind, that a transformed PPP will win a resounding victory in the next election. A Ramkarran or Joe Singh, for example, will run away with the next election if affiliated with the PPP. Chris Ram, Ravi Dev and others will bring support from among those not comfortable with PPP leadership. People see these individuals as providing honest governance that will not be biased against any ethnic group. But will the PPP transform itself to embrace critics and detractors and win the coming elections?

In meetings in New York, Mr Jagdeo hinted that he wants to make the PPP all inclusive (including those who were former members and critics) but faces resistance from within. The PPP Central Committee may feel confident it will win the next election (because of the countless blunders of the APNU+AFC coalition) and as such may not need to embrace others which would entail a divvying up of the spoils of office. But in elections, a victory is not guaranteed even when analysts feel it is a foregone conclusion, as we saw in the US presidential election in 2016, or Ramotar’s fate in 2015; Trump edged out Clinton in an upset and Ramotar could not win in spite of Jagdeo’s intervention. A coalition victory in 2020 must not be ruled out because the PNC is known to have creative ways to win an election. Besides, it has the backing of the US. Also, all the talk about rigging that is ringing throughout Guyana does not make a PPP electoral victory in 2020 a shoo-in. So Mr Jagdeo and his Central Committee face a formidable challenge of managing the party to satisfy constituents as well as embracing outsiders, in order to improve its electoral chances.  I confess it is no easy task, but it needs to be done. Only Mr Jagdeo has the skill and ability to convince party stalwarts that the PPP must reform and embrace those mentioned above as well as others whom Central Committee members attacked in the past. In politics, there are no permanent enemies, only permanent interests. PPP supporters will accept Jagdeo’s decisions.

Yours faithfully,

Vishnu Bisram

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