Last Updated on Monday, 17 December 2018, 16:56 by Denis Chabrol
General Secretary of the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Bharrat Jagdeo on Monday declined to say whether he supports Shadow Finance Minister, Irfan Ali to be his party’s presidential candidate, but he did not believe criminal charges should be a factor.
“Do you think I will come to a press conference and say who I’m supporting? I’ll discuss that there within the party circles,” he said.
Jagdeo said the PPP would Tuesday decide whether to name its candidate before or after the parliamentary debate on the no-confidence motion on Friday, 21st December, 2018. “We are meeting at the party level tomorrow and see whether it makes sense to do it just before or just after the no-confidence motion,” he said.
The PPP General Secretary said naming the candidate would be “decided shortly”, and it would be “pure tactic” on whether to do so before or after Friday.
Political pundits inside and outside the PPP top brass believe that Jagdeo supports Ali, a former Minister of Housing, Water and Tourism, and currently Shadow Finance Minister.
Other names being floated for the presidential candidacy are long-time youth activist and executive member Dr. Frank Anthony; Dr. Vindhya Persaud, a prominent Hindu figure whose father was Pandit Reepu Daman Persaud; former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, and Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira. Attorney-at-Law, Charles Ramson has also signaled his interest in the top spot.
Jagdeo, who is Opposition Leader, said the PPP could not allow its decision on the presidential candidacy to be dictated by criminal charges- alleged larceny against Attorney-at-Law Anil Nandlall and alleged fraud against Ali. “If we allow APNU (A Partnership for National Unity) to decide who our candidates will be, they will charge everyone of one of our potential candidates they will that. We cannot allow APNU to determine who our candidate will be,” he said.
Personally, Jagdeo said he would not be considering the criminal charges against Ali and Nandlall in deciding who he would support to lead the PPP into the next general elections constitutionally due the latest by August, 2020.
The PPP General Secretary noted that the housing lands at Goedverwagting-Sparendaam (Pradoville 2) have taken centre stage only because he resides there, in stark contrast to his allocation of five acres of land in the city to former First Lady Viola Burnham and her family “without paying a cent” and the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), while in government had taken almost 60 acres of land at Sophia. “Taking Irfan Ali- he is not the beneficiary but the beneficiaries haven’t been charged. He got charged and Anil Nandlall again…,” Jagdeo said.
The PPP, buoyed by a good performance in last month’s local government elections that was affected by a low voter-turnout, has been taking advantage of a number of opportunities to flex its political muscles. These include efforts to have the Prime Minister give up his acting presidential responsibilities while he is seated in the National Assembly and the tabling of a no-confidence motion.
Prime Minister Nagamootoo has accused the PPP and Jagdeo of plotting a number of strategies to derail the passage of the 2019 National Budget and create instability in the country. The budget was passed by the National Assembly last week Friday.