The Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, issued an invitation to President Granger to debate race, in the context of which political party in government has done more for African Guyanese. The immediate issue was the rejection by the casting vote of the Chairman of the Elections Commission of Vishnu Persaud as Deputy Chief Elections Officer, which the Leader of the Opposition described as ‘unfair.’ The issue spawned accusations and counter accusations of racial discrimination.

The KN reported on Mr’ Jagdeo’s challenge as follows: “I am prepared to debate race relations and which party has contributed to worsening race relations in Guyana. I can talk to him (President Granger) about this fallacy and the myth that they keep perpetuating that they have done more for Afro-Guyanese than the PPP…” He stated that he is prepared to match the record of the People’s National Congress between 1964 and 1992, and then from 2015 to present as against the PPP’s 23 years in office… According to Jagdeo, the debate can be on several grounds, including employment practices, access to wealth, land and businesses… “I am sure that you will see a pattern with Afro-Guyanese having fared better in that period under the PPP than ever under the PNC rule. I am prepared to debate that openly.”

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Antonio Gramsci’s statement, meant for a different situation, accurately depicts Guyana’s political condition. He describes this period as ‘the interregnum’ in which ‘a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.’ Our symptoms are: squabbling over the Budget, voting a hospital down, failure of the tripartite talks, the Speaker overruling the Chief Justice, Government’s support for ‘shared governance’ not ‘shared government,’ the licences controversy, unassented bills, Clement Rohee, general stalemate and so on.

But the most controversial symptom was President Jagdeo’s discourse at the funeral of the late Pandit Reepu Daman Persaud that stirred wide comment. Relying on evidence led by the defendants in an ongoing libel case in which he is the plaintiff, he concluded that Indians are on the receiving end of a resurgent campaign by the Opposition to intensify prejudice against them.

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