Last gig of a failed rock star
There were two opinions in the letter pages of the newspapers this week and from persons who know what they are talking about. One is GHK Lall, the other, Vic Puran. Both were unkind to Ralph Ramkarran who last week commented that corruption has become a monstrosity under the PPP Government and must be confronted.
Lall and Puran overlooked a most salient commentary by Ramkarran that perhaps is unforgiving
Writing in the Chronicle just before the 2011 general elections, Ramkarran’s panegyric on the Jagdeo’s presidency was extremely fawning, but more egregious than that, it was an obnoxious piece of historical distortion. Jagdeo was acclaimed as the best President Guyana ever produced.
It has to be very poor scholarship that one can put Mr. Jagdeo in front of literal giants like Burnham, Hoyte and Cheddi Jagan. I am not a fan of Burnham, but if I was asked to compare the two presidencies of Burnham and Jagdeo, I would not do it. They cannot be compared. Burnham was simply far better than Jagdeo in terms of phenomenal achievements.
This is the same Ramkarran that is quoted in both independent dailies as calling for the recognition and extirpation of corruption in Guyana. The Guyanese Head of State that ushered in unprecedented corruption is the Guyanese leader whom Mr. Ramkarran finds to be the best president Guyana nurtured. There can only one type of dismissal of Ramkarran’s anti-corruption rhetoric – it is appalling nonsense.
Mr. Ramkarran is not to be taken seriously when he goes in these eccentric but deceptive directions.
So why is Mr. Ramkarran doing what he is presently engaged in? It is Mr. Ramkarran finally making peace with himself. Long touted to be, along with Moses Nagamootoo, the two most enduring figures in the PPP after the Jagan couple, it was either he or Nagamootoo who was expected to succeed the Jagans. When Nagamootoo was overlooked for the 1997 presidency, it was generally thought that he would get the nod. But each time called upon to serve inside the PPP Cabinet Government since 1992, Ramkarran wouldn’t.
This created unmitigated rage in the PPP leadership against him. Top PPP hierarchical members told this columnist that the anger against Ramkarran because of this recurring refusal had permanently damaged his chances of ever being the PPP’s presidential candidate.
In 2011, getting on in age, Ramkarran saw one last opportunity to become President of his country. With no Jagans, and Jagdeo unable to stand again, and Nagamootoo out of the equation, it was obvious to all Guyanese that he was the only presentable candidate. The Stalinism in the PPP that Ramkarran so long devoted himself to, made him a victim, and Donald Ramotar became what Ramkarran always wanted to be.
They say never say never, but Mr. Ramkarran will never be President of Guyana. All the factors are against him. Mr. Ramotar is not going to shave three or four years off his presidency and call a snap poll. And even if he does, Mr. Ramkarran does not have the support inside the Stalinist war room to clinch the spot.
The truth of the matter is if the PPP central committee had to vote in 2011, Ramkarran would not have won the presidential slot. To be fair to him, he was seen among Guyanese as the better candidate, but he didn’t have the popularity inside the central committee to win.
In 2016, he will be 76 years of age. If he wins the presidency then he will be an 81-year-old Head of State when the 2021 elections come around. Those thoughts are going to work against him in 2016 when the young Turks start to fight him down. In 2016, Ramkarran will be facing formidable adversaries in the PPP that are all thirty years his junior.
Mr. Ramkarran is in the twilight of his long PPP career. It is over for him and I guess he is making peace with himself in calling for reform of the PPP as a party and the PPP Government. Last week it was his anti-corruption call. We can expect statements advocating an end to bad governance, advocacy of dealing with the ethnic question, demands for constitutional reform.
But as countless Guyanese would ask, where was this gentleman the past twelve years when fascism, corruption, ethnic discrimination and horrible governance began to desecrate the party that Cheddi Jagan and Ramkarran’s father built?
I am told that one of Ramkarran’s favourite English songs is Simon and Garfunkel’s the “Sound of Silence.” Goodbye Ralph, can’t say I was fond of you.