News Americas, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Thurs. Mar. 19, 2015: There has been quite a stir in Guyana since President Bharrat Jagdeo, in defending his sumptuous lifestyle, suggested that the party’s founder leaders and heroes Cheddi and Janet Jagan lived well too.
Ex-Executive Ralph Ramkarran and the Jagans daughter, Nadira, disputed Jagdeo’s suggestion. A few others have followed. But, none of the current leaders of the party has said anything in defense of the Jagans. What is clear is that the present PPP leaders are prepared to to any length to protect their hold on power, including denigrating their founder-leaders. The Jagans, it seems, are now collateral damage.
It is understandable that observers would lament the extent to which the present PPP leadership has strayed from the Jagans’ ideals. It is unthinkable that Cheddi or Janet would have sunk to the depths of the present PPP leadership. There is no dispute there. But we have to be careful that, in our quest to draw the contrast between the good founders and their bad successors, we do not miss or silence an uncomfortable truth.
The rot in the PPP started shortly after the party rose to power in 1992. It was bound to happen. Parties in opposition, especially those fighting dictatorship, generally become paragons of political virtue. After all, they are fighting against supposed political evil. The PPP benefited from that while in opposition. Once they got into power the scenario changed. The harshness of the previous regime coupled with the belief that the PPP was cheated out of office in 1964 became fertile ground for a praxis of revenge among the PPP cadre. The government and state soon became platforms for settling scores. In the process excesses and over-reach were inevitable.
It is said by insiders that the Jagans tightly controlled the party while in opposition; they controlled the organization and the finances. But they could not control the government in the same way; it’s a different kettle of fish. Further, holding on to power leads good leaders to ignore, downplay or turn a blind eye to the transgressions of the troops. We now know that the Jagans saw things they didn’t like, but they didn’t rock their own boat. Dr. Jagan had promised an anti-corruption committee headed by Mrs. Jagan that never really functioned.
It is worth remembering that President Jagdeo dismissed Mrs. Jagan’s criticism of his government’s decision to remove Government advertisements from the Stabroek News. Now we know from Ralph Ramkarran that she refused to give him permission to confront Jagdeo on that matter. Clearly, the rot in the PPP started while the Jagans were still alive.
Dr. David Hinds, a political activist and commentator, is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Caribbean and African Diaspora Studies at Arizona State University. More of his writings and commentaries can be found on his YouTube Channel Hinds’ Sight: Dr. David Hinds’ Guyana-Caribbean Politics and on his website www.guyanacaribbeanpolitics.com