In an article for my blog, www.conversationtree.gy, published in SN last Sunday, I took issue with a statement by former President Jagdeo that implied that Cheddi and Janet Jagan lived in luxury. His argument that the Jagans lived such a lifestyle, comparable to his own at the time his house was built, was an attempt to justify his own Cadillac lifestyle, which over the past few years has come under severe scrutiny and criticism.
There were outraged responses by many people to Jagdeo’s statement, including from Clem Seecharran and, more indirectly, Peter Fraser, two distinguished Guyanese historians living and working in the UK. But the most telling came from Nadira Jagan-Brancier, the Jagan daughter, Dr. Tulsie Dyal Singh and Sadie Amin. Dr. Singh, who conferred with Dr Jagan about his medical condition just before he died and visited his home, said that his own family home in Palmyra on the Corentyne when he was growing up in the 1950s was of similar size to the Jagan home. Sadie Amin gave a description of the modest lifestyle and home of the Jagans, including its leaking roof.
As expected, two articles appeared in the Guyana Times containing stories about me on familiar issues, some from twenty years ago, some earlier, which are completely and deliberately fabricated or distorted even though the correct information is known or easily available to the newspaper. The false allegations are intended to embarrass and intimidate me into silence. I replied with a detailed refutation but up to the time of writing it was not published. It can be found here. The message of the intimidation by the Guyana Times is that if I do not stop, there will be consequences
There were other articles in Guyana Times, by a columnist bearing the nom de plume, Eyewitness, who is a former political leader, hitherto accused of being an advocate of politics with an ethnic dimension and who was previously engaged in lively theoretical discourses as a known newspaper columnist. Now that he has been a willing victim of the Jagdeo touch, like all others, he has degenerated into a purveyor of daily abuse. Word is that he is soon to emerge again in full public view, lending his ethnic hand to the restoration of the PPP majority. But all he has become is another Jagdeo crony, available to follow orders, with the enthusiasm of a new convert. Watch for him!
Within the PPP different and more direct, intimidatory techniques exist. Direct abuse is a major one. Subtle threats of dismissal from employment are another. Most people have jobs with the party or government, which they need to secure for their livelihood. This is enough to encourage silence or elicit vociferous, sycophantic, support. Dissentient voices have been effectively stilled in the PPP, even though Jagdeo is widely criticized privately. This is the answer to the question often asked: how is it that Jagdeo has got such a hold over the PPP that no one dares to oppose him? I spoke out for years in the PPP, subjecting myself to intense abuse and isolation, until it became necessary to ensure that I no longer remain within its ranks. No one else has so far dared to oppose Jagdeo.
As expected the General Secretary of the PPP, Clement Rohee, refused to comment on the controversy, just as the previous General Secretary, Donald Ramotar, refused to comment on Jagdeo’s insult to Mrs. Jagan when she called for a restoration of advertisements to the SN in 2006. No one in the PPP will now ever be able to speak to the Jagans’ simple and humble lifestyle, and urge its emulation, for fear of offending Jagdeo. This crass and unworthy attempt by him to justify the size of his mansion by the sea and his gargantuan, post presidential, benefits has taken away one of the PPP’s greatest assets from its public relations armoury, namely, the Jagan legacy of a modest lifestyle with integrity and humility. Jagdeo said that their lifestyle was luxurious. No one in the PPP can now ever dare to say otherwise.
Jagdeo is in full command and control of the PPP. He has decided that he will lead the campaign as he did in 2011. His opening statements about the opposition’s beating the drums of race in 2011 about which he remained silent until now, kicking the opposition’s ass, and justifying his Cadillac lifestyle, show that he is in no way relenting from the boisterous cuss down tactics that he employed with such public revulsion in the 2011 campaign. Popular with the base though, this type of attack will energize supporters and shake them from their apathy. So will the raising of ethnic sentiments and the PNC’s past. But it will earn the PPP no favours from its middle class supporters, the depth and range of whose disillusionment has expanded over the past three years.
The PPP may still win the elections. They have a solid 48 percent already. No one knows if some of its lost support will return. Also no one knows what will happen to the AFC’s 10 percent, having made the alliance with APNU. But as one businessman told me, the PPP will not have ‘happy’ voters. He meant that they would be voting unenthusiastically, merely as a defensive strategy to keep the other side out.