As the fallout continues among People’s Progressive Party (PPP) supporters over the election of Irfan Ali as its presidential candidate, veteran women’s activist Indra Chandrapal Monday night stopped short of saying that Frank Anthony was the best candidate although he and Dr. Vindhya Persaud said they dropped out because they knew they would have been defeated.
“You are the epitome of decency, integrity and commitment. Never change those values. It is who you are,” said Chandrapal in response to Anthony’s Facebook post.
The former chairperson of the Women’s Progressive Organisation (WPO), the PPP youth arm, had earlier Monday issued a statement in support of the 38-year old Ali candidacy.
Chandrapal hailed Anthony, a medical doctor by profession and former Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, as a “great human being” whose candidacy she was honoured to have supported.
Multiple party sources have confirmed being inundated with calls, messages and other forms of communication, expressing outrage at the 35-member Central Committee. There are suggestions in some quarters that a number of disgruntled party members were considering filing written protests to the executive, calling for a rethink on the decision.
“This is the first time there has been a contest. On one occasion when there was a contest, one of the candidates pulled out and so the lone candidate had emerged as the consensus candidate. On this occasion, there was a contest and perhaps there needs to be a mandate through Regional Conferences or a Special Congress,” a source said.
A number of concerned party members on Monday said they would not discourage any calls for a review of the election in which Ali won 24-11 against Anil Nandlall after Anthony, Persaud and Gail Teixeira pulled out.
For his part, Anthony said on Facebook that he made the “tough and selfless” decision to withdraw from the race after he realised that he could not have mustered a majority of votes to become the presidential candidate but opted to back Nandlall for the benefit of the PPP and Guyana. “While I knew that I had the support of some of my fellow Central Committee members, I felt I did not have a clear majority of votes to win. I decided that it was appropriate to withdraw and gave my support to Anil Nandlall. I want to assure you that in the circumstances, it was the right decision to make.
Anthony and Nandlall congratulated Ali whose candidacy has been mired in controversy over the authenticity of his academic qualifications and charges for the alleged GYD$174 million fraudulent sale of government housing lands to several cabinet ministers and other senior officials. “We have a greater task at hand and that is, to win the next elections. The Party needs us all,” said Nandlall, a former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs. Nandlall is also before the court for alleged larceny of law books while he had been Attorney General, although he has repeatedly stated that the deal had been part of his contract with the Guyana government.
Nandlall, who is considered the PPP’s legal heavyweight, lauded his colleague Central Committee members who he pointed out attempted to create a united front.
“I wish to publicly recognise the contribution of several leaders of our party, who acted with great magnanimity and made tremendous sacrifices in their attempts to forge greater party unity during this process. At a more appropriate time, I will record in writing, the significant role they played for posterity. I salute them and I sincerely thank them for their tremendous contribution,” he said. Nandlall also thanked the “thousands of persons, who supported me so unflinchingly over the years and particularly, during this process. I remain deeply humbled by the confidence you have placed in me.”
Dr. Vindhya Persaud said after entering the presidential candidacy race with the encouragement of thousands, she participated fully in the process, presenting her vision for Guyana and being questioned intensively. Persaud withdrew because of less than adequate support.
“I withdrew on the day of voting on account of insufficient support for me among the 35-member Central Committee and supported Anil Nandlall in the ensuing two man race… I wish to thank all those who sent messages, calls and expressions of encouragement to me before and after the process. I am touched and humbled by the outpouring of support. I remain committed to working for a better Guyana,” said Persaud, the daughter of late prominent Hindu cleric and veteran PPP member, Pandit Reepu Daman Persaud.
Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo Sunday night ended weeks of speculation and assumption when he openly admitted for the first time that all along he had been backing Ali because he is young, experienced, hardworking, a team-player and would deliver on the PPP’s promises.
Party insiders suggested that Jagdeo secured many of the 24 votes favouring Ali because they feel a sense of gratitude to him personally for being members of parliament or representatives on a number of state-agencies. Sources said Jagdeo in recent days had been personally lobbying Central Committee members to vote for Ali.
The sources said a number of Central Committee members voted for Ali, although they were personally conscious that Nandlall, Anthony or Persaud would have been better choices.
In the end, the sources said Nandlall was only able to garner Anthony’s solid 10 votes along with his.
In an election, whose returning officer was Robeson Benn, there had been some discord over whether the Central Committee members should have been seated and voted for their candidate or go to a polling area and cast their vote privately away from the glare of others, party sources said.