Last Updated on Friday, 6 July 2018, 7:48 by Denis Chabrol
General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday denied secretly asking Charles Ramson Jr. to publicly express his availability for the presidential candidacy of their party.
“No, I did not, I did not,” he said, while at the same time stating that he did not mind anyone publicly expressing his or her availability for the candidacy. After stating that “people have a right to say ‘I am interested’,” he was asked why he criticised Ramson for doing so last week Wednesday to which he responded: “If someone says ‘I’m available’ is different than outlining a whole thing why others should not be there; that’s it- availability, why others should not get the job”.
At the same time Jagdeo predicted that the David Granger-led administration would trump charges against the PPP’s candidates for the 2020 general elections, in an effort to eliminate them. He said the 35-member Central Committee would have to take that into consideration in deciding who should go forward as the candidate.
“They can make up stuff and charge anyone so given how frivolous the charges are but that would be for the thirty-five members to discuss. When we discuss that issue, we’ll have to examine that but they can charge anyone, they can make any claim. I wouldn’t put it past them,” he said
Except for concerns about Ramson’s apparent disconnect from the masses of ordinary Guyanese, his apparent aloofness, not being a member of the 35-member Central Committee, and mispronunciation of ‘battalion’, he has little baggage. While a back-bench parliamentarian, Ramson had either seized or afforded the opportunity of speaking on even the smallest of issues in the House.
The other likely front-runners are long-serving PPP member, Dr. Frank Anthony and very active PPP lawyer, Anil Nandlall. Anthony has in the past been persistently accused of poor management of the Caribbean Press, charges he has denied and he is not regarded as having a high public profile. Nandlall is still facing criminal charges for allegedly stealing Commonwealth Law Reports from the State, but he has repeatedly stated that the books were purchased on his behalf as part of his contract when he was appointed Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs by President Donald Ramotar.
Dr. Vindhya Persaud’s name has also been floated as possible candidate in some circles for her connection to the Hindu community through her vast network of more than 200 pandits. Persaud- a daughter of late PPP stalwart and Hindu cleric, Reepu Daman Persaud-is also said to be a major fundraiser through religious and cultural activities.
Jagdeo said, as president, he had presided over the youngest cabinet in Guyana’s history and, now as party General Secretary a large number of Central and Executive Committee members are young people. “I am all in favour of giving young people an opportunity. I, myself, was given an opportunity when I was the Minister of Finance so I am in favour of young people pursuing ambition too,” said the 54-year old Jagdeo who was pitch-forked into the presidency in 1999 when he was 35 years old.
Except if the PPP changes its approach, Jagdeo said the Central Committee would decide who will lead that party into the 2020 general elections.
Hours after the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) last week Tuesday decided that Guyana’s constitution was properly amended to allow for presidential terms to be limited to two, Ramson publicly declared his availability in sections of the media and outlined reasons why he is the best man for the PPP’s presidential candidacy- he would not be going to the race with baggage, he understands what it means to be a family-man and that he is qualified in several disciplines including law, economics, and business.
However, Jagdeo lashed back on Wednesday, accusing Ramson of breaking with the party’s customary approach of selecting its presidential candidate. “We have a a way of approaching these matters. This is a departure from that approach that we have always used in the past. It’s a departure from that approach but maybe the person here might think this best suits his purpose but the party will meet and discuss this too,” he has said.
Jagdeo on Thursday said he has not talked with Ramson since on the issue and expects it to be discussed at the decision-making level of the PPP.