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PPP losing East Indian support-base; time to share power with opposition – Ramkarran

PPP’s Headquarters, Freedom House.

Former People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Executive Committee member, Ralph Ramkarran has said that that political organization would ultimately have to give into power-sharing because the latest population census shows that its traditional East Indian support continues to decline.

“With confirmation of the reducing Indian population by the census, if the PPP wants to continue holding political power, it has to be prepared to share it,” he said in his weekly column on his website , Conversation Tree (www.conversationtree.gy).

The Guyana Bureau of Statistics would not be releasing the ethnic composition of the 747,884 persons until next year. But Ramkarran relied on results showing that in Region 6, a stronghold of the PPP, the population declined by 15,000 at the end of 2012. Adding Regions 5 and 3, also strongholds of the PPP, there was a total decline of 20,000 persons.

While Ramkarran appeared not to have considered inward migration and the percentage of the 20,000 persons who might be of voting age, he said the latest census figures have confirmed his previous reasoning that the PPP lost its simple parliamentary majority in 2011 due to a decline in its East Indian support base in addition to apathy and loss of support. “The confirmation of what I and others have predicted and which is now supported by the census figures as to the decreasing Indian population, holds considerable implications for the outcome of any future elections,” he said.

He observed that the PPP-aligned Indian Arrival Committee (IAC) and PPP Executive Member, Hydar Ally have been talking recently about the implications of the census results on Guyana’s governance, a signal that the higher echelons of the party might be conducting similar analyses. “. Together, they give public recognition from these  important PPP sources that more than a minority government is needed in the current conditions. It would not be an exaggeration to conclude that these statements probably reflect an internal PPP view at a high level which is now finding its way in the public domain,” said Ramkarran.

Ramkarran, a former House Speaker, believes that correcting political mistakes alone will not be enough to restore the PPP’s political fortunes. “It needs to expand its political support across ethnic or traditional lines,” he suggested and indicated that would be an almost impossible task.  Despite doing more than any other political party to expand its political base with little permanent success- except among Amerindians, he said the major obstacle was the ethnic hold on political expression and opinion.

The Indian Arrival Committee (IAC) is close to the PPP. It issued a statement last week expressing its “alarm” over the census figures and its implications for economic growth. After contrasting figures between Guyana and Singapore showing a similar level of development in 1960, it then showed how Singapore moved ahead dramatically while Guyana stagnated. The statement concluded that: “This reality should be cause for urgent action… The IAC strongly feels that the time has come for a serious re-examination of Governance initiatives which will enhance a feeling of inclusiveness and togetherness by all ethnic groups.”

He recommended that the PPP seize the golden opportunity to transform Guyana’s political landscape by boldly seizing the initiative and inviting the entire Opposition in the Government, even for a limited period with limited objectives, to restore political sanity.

Ramkarran predicted that the current governance situation could resume and probably worsen, if the PPP does not alternatively consider accepting the AFC’s invitation for dialogue on the issue of governance. “ Its ten-point plan, whether meritorious or not, shows that it is prepared to shelve its plan to consider a no confidence motion, which is an immediate threat to the survival of the government.
If the PPP is interested in survival with dignity, it can do worse than consider the ten-point plan along with a new coalition mechanism involving the AFC, if PNCR/AFC electoral collaboration is not on the cards,” he added.

Should the opposition pass a no-confidence vote in the government, the President would have no other alternative but to dissolve government and call elections in three months.