…running scared that Nagamootoo could dislodge support base
The incumbent People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) yesterday sounded fears that it could end up winning the presidency but lose control of the 65-seat legislature when votes are counted after the November 28 polls.
The PPP/C is scared that its main opponents – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) – are brewing a ‘conspiracy’ to cripple it from performing the functions of Government even if its candidate, Donald Ramotar, is elected President.
Under the country’s electoral system, the party with the largest bloc of votes wins the Presidency. Over the last 19 years in office, the PPP/C enjoyed a Parliamentary majority which allowed it to function without hindrance from the opposition.
However, speaker after speaker at the party’s rally on the Essequibo Coast, yesterday, expressed fears that it could be left to the mercy of the political opposition if the APNU and the AFC could, combined, amass enough votes to secure the dominant position in Parliament.
What the PPP/C wants to avoid is the situation of 1964 when the People’s National Congress (PNC) and The United Force (TUF) joined forces to form the government. The ensuing 28 years of PNC rule, according to the PPPC, were characterized by a wrecked economy, rigged elections and the decay of the social sectors, the PPP/C warned its supporters.
The major headache for the PPP/C is Moses Nagamootoo, the man who served it for decades and maintained popular support with the rank and file of the party.
Nagamootoo’s decision to join the AFC has the PPP running scared, mainly because he could eat away at the Indo-Guyanese vote that has been the fortification of the party, the party noted. Yesterday, the party’s speakers literally ran out of names to demonise him in the hopes of convincing their supporters not to switch their vote to the AFC.
Dr Cheddi ‘Joey’ Jagan, the son of PPP founder Dr Cheddi Jagan, called Nagamotoo a vagabond renegade. For Ali Baksh, the party’s most senior executive on the Essequibo Coast, Nagamootoo is a hypocrite, a traitor and a Neemak haram.
Ramotar chose to call Nagamootoo a snake, and said that if he believed he would secure a top position in government, then what he would get “lowraah” (penis).
An elderly man understood “lowraah” to mean the penis but he used a more blunt Creole expression to describe the male organ.
The PPP rally was held just outside the Anna Regina office of the AFC, and attracted a few hundred persons, mainly those who were mobilized from different parts of the coast and the riverain Amerindian communities.
The majority of the crowd, consisting mostly of Amerindians and Indo-Guyanese, withstood the blistering midday sun to hear out the flurry of speakers.
The PPP is losing some of its traditional support base and it was no more evident than in the Charity market where vendors and shopkeepers said they could not care to hear what was happening.
An Indo-Guyanese businessman who said that he has supported the party for as long as he can remember, said he is fed up of “the thiefing at the hierarchy,” referring to allegations of corruption that has dogged the PPP/C.
As a result, he said he is shifting his vote to APNU, out of admiration for its Prime Ministerial Candidate, Dr Rupert Roopnarine.
In seeking to discredit APNU and the AFC, President Bharrat Jagdeo told the gathering that the parties are part of a “conspiracy” to snatch the freedoms which were gained after PPP was returned to office in the October 5, 1992 elections which were held as the first free and fair elections in post-1966 Guyana.
The rally on the Essequibo Coast brought Ramotar back to the region of his birth; he grew up in the Essequibo River community of Caria Caria.
Region Two, with an estimated 40,000 souls, has traditionally supported the PPP/C. Known as the “rice land” for its vast expanse of the rice fields, the Essequibo Coast has been home to rice farmers enjoying the fortunes of better yields and increased cultivation owing to massive investments in drainage and irrigation.
Apart from rice, agriculture in general has really been the backbone of the region, and has seen growth over the years. Ali Baksh boasted that currently, an average of 28 trucks of agricultural produce is exported from the Essequibo Coast to other parts of the country on a daily basis.
A recent plan being rolled out by the Ministry of Agriculture is the development of 5,500 acres of untouched and uncultivated land stretching from Supenaam Creek to Riverstown.
Baksh said that the county is not longer Cinderella, the name by which it has always been known.
President Jagdeo said that the Essequibo Coast was once a desolate place, with an “abortion road” that was fixed by the current PPP/C government.
But while the main road on the Essequibo Coast might be smooth, it’s not the same for the road leading to Lake Mainstay Resort, the main tourism destination which was opened in an agreement with private investors, the government and the Amerindian community of the joint Amerindian communities of Mainstay/Wyaka.
The community chief, Yvonne Pearson, boasted that Amerindians are no longer marginalized, but the resort, which was seen as a means of employment for residents from the twin communities, was almost closed down this year.
Manager Jagnarine Singh, who expressed support for the PPP/C, said that had the road to the resort been fixed, the resort could have been doing better. Added to that, he said if the government were to take its conferences to the resort that could also bring in revenue.
Singh left his Georgetown store to relocate to the resort itself to save it from being closed down, now even working the gardens himself.
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