As the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) on Thursday began hearing from five of its presidential candidate hopefuls, former presidential advisor Shyam Nokta could emerge as the consensus candidate to contest the next general elections, party sources said.
Nokta, 44, the son of veteran PPP member, Harripersaud Nokta, is said to have very good relations with party General Secretary, former President Bharrat Jagdeo.
When contacted Thursday, Nokta said he had turned down a request to join the race for the candidacy but at the same time he left the door open to taking up the offer again if called upon. “At this point in time, nobody would want to rule out anything but let’s see how the process moves forward,” said the environmentalist.
Nokta said as of Thursday morning no one had “approached me on that subject”. He said he had been previously asked to “put my hat in the ring” but declined to do so.
“I did not put myself up at this time,” adding that “I really didn’t give the issue much consideration at this time but, like everything else, you have to take everything into consideration before you make those decisions,” said Nokta who is also a member of the PPP’s Central Committee.
Those expected to make presentations before the 35-member Central Committee on Thursday and Friday are Dr. Frank Anthony, Canadian-trained political scientist Gail Teixeira, Irfan Ali, Attorney-at-Law Anil Nandlall, and Dr. Vindhya Persaud whose father is late PPP stalwart and iconic Hindu cleric, Reepu Daman Persaud.
After the Committee hearings, the party is expected to decide on its candidate either by secret ballot or consensus.
Jagdeo is widely believed to be backing Ali, the PPP’s Shadow Finance Minister, whose academic qualifications were reportedly questioned by Prime News 24 hours before the Central Committee was due to hear the candidate hopefuls.
However, several members of the PPP ‘Old Guard’ are said to be backing Dr. Anthony, a former head of the PPP’s Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO), and Nandlall, regarded by all for his hard work especially in the legal arena on behalf of the party and ordinary supporters.
Observers note that Anthony, Teixeira and Nokta have not been tainted by police investigations or criminal charges. At the same time, Jagdeo has said that he would prefer the PPP’s presidential candidate to be someone with Cabinet experience and who is committed to the party’s programme for Guyana’s development.
Nokta, a British-trained environmentalist, served as Head of the Office of Climate Change at the former Office of the President and, along with Jagdeo, had piloted the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) for the protection and preservation of standing forests and scale up use of renewable energy sources to reduce carbon emissions and at the same time earn revenue. The LCDS has since been modified by the David Granger-led administration and restyled the Green State Development Strategy.