Alliance for Change (AFC) executive member David Patterson yesterday said that the Charrandas Persaud that defected and voted in favour of an Opposition PPP/C no-confidence motion on December 21 is not the man he knows.
“[I was] extremely shocked. I mean come on!” he told reporters. Patterson yesterday painted a picture of a man who cared greatly for the residents of Region Six and who always represented their interest.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo filed the motion on November 15 declaring no-confidence in the APNU+AFC government. The motion was debated on December 21 and five MPs from each side made arguments which, in total, lasted more than six hours.
When it was time to vote, the 32 Opposition MPs duly declared their support for the motion while the first two government MP’s Audwin Rutherford and Haimraj Rajkumar, both of the Alliance for Change (AFC) strongly declared their dissent.
As Isaacs called for ‘Mr C Persaud’ to cast his vote, shock reverberated through the chamber when Persaud voted ‘Yes’.
Shocked government ministers Volda Lawrence and Patterson, who were sitting directly in front of the AFC backbencher spun in their seats. Recognising that he had incorrectly addressed the member, Isaacs called for the Honourable Charrandas Persaud, who, after calmly sipping from a glass of water, softly intoned “Yes”.
He subsequently repeated ‘yes’ three times.
Lawrence, the Minister of Public Health and Chairperson of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), with AFC leader Raphael Trotman whispering in her ear, stood to ask Scotland “for a timeout of two minutes.” However, Scotland rejected this saying that a timeout cannot be called during a vote.
Persaud left the country hours after the vote and has made several public statements about his decision.
In a 25-minute long video uploaded on Facebook on Christmas Day, he claimed that government has done nothing for Regions Five and Six and he was tired of being a `yes man’. He accusing the AFC MPs of being a bunch of `yes men’ who feared being expelled from the party for saying no. He said that the senior members of the party never oppose bills that they did not agree with.
Following the vote, Persaud expressed dissatisfaction with the way in which the government was functioning and he insisted that he had to vote according to his conscience and support the motion.
Asked for a reaction to the statements being made by Persaud, Patterson who is also the Minister of Public Infrastructure and was a former General Secretary of the AFC, said that he doesn’t like to personally attack individuals. “I think everyone should live with whatever they have done. They have their own reasons, some valid, some not.”
He said that in spite of what the former AFC member is saying, he still considers him a colleague.
Patterson insisted that some of the things being said were never uttered before. He recalled that the former MP would call him for help in rectifying roads issues and other problems in Region Six which fell under his ministry. Though not going into details, the minister singled out the East Bank Berbice road and said that the issues raised were addressed. “Never once has Charrandas come to me personally….and said half, not even quarter…[he) never said any of those things that he is saying…So when I heard all these things about lack of this and so forth I know that that is not Charrandas.”
Patterson reminded that earlier this month Persaud, an attorney, represented him in a lawsuit filed against him by the Berbice Bridge Company without him even asking.
He called that following the filing of the motion rumours began circulating that someone was going vote in support of the PPP/C. “Every Tom, Dick and Harry was being suspected” he said before adding that names were being called.
With regards to the AFC members being `yes men’, Patterson said that he disagrees with that.
“I am not a yes man…I act on every issue. I do under my colleagues and I do understand Charrandas being in the sugar belt…being in the enemy territory which is the PPP stronghold and the misinformation and those things like that” he stressed.
In the video Persaud said that “all the time” he had no say and stressed that during his time in Parliament he had to vote along party lines. “In Guyana …if you vote (on) your party lines, you are good, you are the guy that they want. You are just a `yes man’ but if you vote according to your conscience you are only allowed one vote…”
Persaud took aim at AFC members, PM Moses Nagamootoo, Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan and Trotman for not standing their ground.
Nagamootoo, he said enjoyed driving around with outriders, visiting friends and relatives in Whim but has done nothing for Region Six residents. “When they closed the Wales Sugar Estate …there was no consultation and you expect that given they closed the Rose Hall and Skeldon [sugar estates] in Region Six they might have talked to people, some of us, [get] an input …see how it will impact them (people),” he said while stressing that life for the former sugar workers and their families has gotten harder.
He said that neither Nagamootoo nor Ramjattan did anything to help those workers and their starving families. “They never opposed it,” he said before adding that under Ramjattan the crime situation has escalated and is not under control as is being peddled.
He used the opportunity to again criticize Trotman for his handling of the controversial comments made by Lawrence at a PNCR Region Four meeting and stressed that she needed to be removed from office.