Former Vice President under the Burnham Government, and ambassador to the Soviet Union, 79-year-old Ranji Chandisingh, died quietly in his sleep at 05:30 hrs on Monday afternoon, at his Waterloo Street, North Cummingsburg home.
Mr. Chandisingh had been ailing for some time.
He started his political career as a member of the People’s Progressive Party and became a member of the Cabinet of the PPP Government in 1961 when he served as Minister of Labour, Health and Housing. He was also a leading ideologue of that Party and became the Principal of Accabre College.
He left the party in the late 1970’s and joined the People’s National Congress (PNC), and became a Cabinet Minister. He was later to serve as the General Secretary of that Party. Chandisingh was also Guyana’s Ambassador to Moscow.
He was a member of the PNC team, which was engaged in talks to facilitate a conciliation of the PPP and the PNC. However, those talks fell through. He later retired from his public life in the 1990s.
Chandisingh was a student of the Modern High School on Robb Street, after which he applied to the Harvard University in the US in 1946 and was one of the few Guyanese who was accepted in the University. He was 16.
It was reported that he was the youngest freshman to have entered the institution and he was accepted at a time when thousands of Americans were denied entrance because of lack of accommodation.
The only child for Ranji and Veronica Chandisingh, is the acting Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI), Yuri Chandisingh, who remembers his father to be someone with the highest order of integrity.
During an interview with Kaieteur News yesterday, Yuri Chandisingh said that his father has always been fair but firm in his dealings, whether it was in his political career or in his family life.
“I remember him being a disciplinarian yet at the same time, he had the gentle side of a father and that’s something I’ve learnt from him. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that you have had a father who was not someone just waving the stick around, but someone who teaches you the meaning of honesty, about feelings for people, feelings for your work and someone who has been a colleague and a friend.”
Yuri recalled his days as a child when there were the father/son moments.
“He was a very lively individual who loved to enjoy life to its fullest and probably spoiled me a bit as a child.”
Yuri spent the last few moments with his father before he passed away and described them as a very difficult moment.
“I guess it was inevitable… I got the distinct impression that he wanted to go. My dad was never the sort of individual who wanted to hang on and I guess he knew it would be burdensome to his family and he is one of those simple individuals that you know… very modest and never one to impose on anyone.
“He would be very inconspicuous wherever he goes and did not want to give anybody a bother at all. So I guess he got his wish. He went peacefully, quietly and even though there is so much grief, there is also a sense of satisfaction that I had a father like him.”
The PNCR, in a press statement last evening, expressed its shock and sadness at his passing. The party described Chandisingh as an outstanding politician and educator of unquestionable integrity and patriotism who used his strength and his practical experience to embrace a vision for a truly united, progressive and developed Guyana.
“As a person Mr. Ranji Chandisingh was a very private, even if acetic man, whose private hours seemed dedicated to reading and thinking about the various issues affecting mankind in general and his fellow Guyanese in particular.
“He was gracious, well spoken and honest in his personal and social relations. Indeed, he was a Guyanese who has been a credit and a blessing to this nation,” the PNCR stated.
The party noted that Chandisingh’s political career embraced the political struggle for independence and nation building.
“Joining the PNC in 1975, he became Director of Studies of Cuffy Ideological Institute at Loo Creek, Soesdyke/Linden Highway and a member of the Central Executive Committee of the PNC.
In that capacity he wrote the highly informative booklet entitled “Education in the Revolution for Socialist Transformation and Development.”
In January 1980, Mr. Ranji Chandisingh was appointed Minister of Higher Education. In the following year, he became Minister of Education, Social Development and Culture and in 1984, he replaced Dr. Ptolemy Reid as General Secretary of the People’s National Congress when the latter retired.
In 1985, after the death of President Burnham, he elected to retire from active politics.
Chandisingh leaves to mourn his wife, Veronica, his son Yuri, daughter-in-law Serome and his two grandchildren Stacy and Kevin.
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