What have the PNC and AFC learned from history?
The respective congresses of the PNC and AFC are over. Sadly, in none of those two parties was there ever any talk of term limits for the leader.
What is emerging in the Congress Party in India is nothing but an international disgrace. One family has dominated that party since Independence. As it is today, the leader is Mrs. Gandhi, the wife of Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv’s son, Rahul, is set to take over from his mother. He is currently the General-Secretary and his sister, Priyanka, is very active in the party. Rahul Gandhi is going to be the next leader of the Congress Party. By the time Rahul gets old, his child will be waiting in the wings. It is just a horrible story of the Congress Party in India. This is a dynasty that is out of place in the 21st century.
Across the US, modern people have refused to accept a Kennedy dynasty. There was never any support for the elevation of Edward Kennedy in the Democratic Party in the USA and Kennedy never forgave Jimmy Carter for running against him in 1980 for the presidential nomination.
When Obama’s Senate seat became vacant, another Kennedy made a move to have it, but there was stiff opposition to her. No matter how royal the Kennedy family is in the US, there is no support for a Kennedy dynasty. If the Congress Party had term limits, there would never have been the Nehru/Gandhi ownership of the Congress Party.
Term limits are an anti-authoritarian framework that prevents dynasty. It doesn’t mean leaders of a party cannot be dictatorial. It simply prevents one person from owning the organization.
In Guyana, we have not done too badly with the rejection of dynasty. There has never been and there is absolutely no movement to have the Jagans son, Joey, made leader of the PPP. Not that I am saying the son made his move. I believe even if he did or wanted to do so, the PPP leadership had no use for a Jagan dynasty once Janet Jagan died. Joey Jagan has his son, Cheddi the Third, working at the Office of the President, but it will be decades and decades from now before we see him in the saddle, if he wants the job. There is a superabundance of PPP leaders that will not allow that to happen.
In the PNC, Burnham’s son-in-law returned home last year. We really don’t know what happened, but he left the PNC for the AFC. Obviously the PNC did not automatically install him as their leader. From what this columnist was told, there would not have been substantial support for Dr. Van-West Charles if he wanted it. Of course we don’t know if he wanted it, because he has not gone on record as saying that he wanted to be the leader of the PNC. If he did, I would like to be corrected.
I honestly think the WPA should now replace Clive Thomas and Rupert Roopnaraine as co-leaders. We all know that these gentlemen have been in that position a long time and I suspect that both men will give up the leadership if called upon. I have known Professor Thomas a long time, and have been closer to him over the decades than Roopnaraine, and I doubt Dr. Thomas would be against the rule of term limits.
My understanding is that since the November 2011 general elections, WPA is expanding its base and will have increasing membership. It is time it looks at the continuation of its rotation principle that it adopted in 1976 when it was born.
If any country should have term limits in its political parties, it is Guyana. The “Maximum Leader” syndrome has damaged the collective psyche of the PNC and the PPP in terrible ways. You can apply revisionist history to Burnham and Jagan as much as you like, you can call them great leaders as much as you like, you can find evidence to conform their value to their respective parties but if there were term limits, I suspect Guyana would not have evolved in the racial, politically divisive and violent ways that it did.
It can be argued that Burnham and Jagan were too phenomenal in their respective parties for others to challenge them and powerful names did confront them and were decapitated. But later leaders should have learnt from the mistakes of the past and try to prevent another Burnham and Jagan. Term limits simply prevent the existence of the Maximum Leader.