This columnist has been told by reliable sources that there has been, and maybe still is, consideration inside Freedom House of an early election. The fact that Parliament has to approve of the money for GECOM does not preclude the Freedom House strategists from reflecting on a snap election.
The discussions on an early poll are characterized by trenchant divisions. One adumbration is that the PPP is very uncertain about what will happen between now and the next two years in terms of exposure of colossal skullduggery. These uncertain times could produce devastating consequences for the stability of both the PPP and Guyana. Some PPP planners think that the crucial one and a half percent missed in 2011 could be recovered in another round of balloting.
Opposed to this is the argument that some Freedom House strategists are not inclined toward another road trip because Mr. Ramotar could face a gruelling competition for the presidential candidacy from some ambitious apparatchiks who feel they could pull it off with more certainty than Ramotar.
Fuelling this zeal is the shape the PPP gave the last campaign. It was a Bharrat Jagdeo bandwagon for the entire world to see. The PPP’s campaign in 2011 featured Bharrat Jagdeo as the star. That was intended. The answer was that Mr. Ramotar was not charismatic enough to hog the limelight.
Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan told this columnist that the possibility of Ramotar losing the candidacy should there be another election is very strong.
In advertising Bharrat Jagdeo as a brand name in the last election, the PPP was conceding a point that has become a virtual law in politics – charisma will lead to success. I don’t think any scholar or journalist will deny the role charisma plays in catapulting an activist into leadership and then power. If you don’t have it you can still get through. But if you have it, then your future is made. Vincent Alexander is one of the best leaders Guyana produced, but lack of charisma has stopped him from reaching the apex of the PNC.
In Guyana, I can trace three examples of penetrating charisma in the past, and one at the present time. In the fifties there were Burnham and Jagan. But Burnham’s charisma was more enduring because Jagan lacked an essential ingredient in charisma that sustains its life – intellectual articulation. No matter how attractive you are, how committed is your politics, the oratory is an exigent requirement.
Jagan was not a persuasive speaker and his words lacked the poetic cutting edge, Dickensian angles, and the mesmerizing effect. The oratory comes from the intellectual endowment. Jagan was a dentist. Burnham was trained in the use or words, which is what law is all about.
I would put Walter Rodney as the third charismatic activist of 20th century Guyana. He was better than Burnham in delivery, because he had access to a post-colonial passion which spawned a whole generation of poets, writers, intellectuals, artists and musicians, to which Burnham had no access.
While Burnham could mix Latin with Shakespeare, Rodney did the same but threw in Bob Marley and Linton Kwesi Johnson.
I would be doing an injustice to three other 20th century Guyanese, but my analysis will not include them in the same category with Burnham, Jagan and Rodney. In the seventies, three men came close to possessing charisma, but lacked some of its main contents that are necessary to allow for that aura to which people cling. They are Dr. Omawale, Rupert Roopnaraine and Moses Nagamootoo.
Omawale was a reluctant activist but he could charm an audience. Being a biologist, his semantic reach was short and that was an obstacle.
Rupert Roopnaraine was not interested in grounding with the ordinary people the way his predecessors did, and that diluted his mystique, even though the passionate oratory was brilliant.
A young, handsome Nagamootoo posed a deadly threat to Cheddi Jagan, but not to Rodney, because sadly Moses did not have the intellectual dimensions that people wanted in their leaders. Moses became a victim of a West Indian complex. I am glad he is now a lawyer.
The only charismatic person in politics today that I can see from where I stand is Nigel Hughes–a hugely built man that when he projects his personality, it dwarfs those in close proximity. Armed with a fantastic Rodneyite style, the intellectual flow is persuasive, dynamic and permeating.
I campaigned with Nigel Hughes in the last national election, and I don’t believe anyone came closer to electrifying an audience the way Jagan, Burnham and Rodney did as Hughes in 2011. I have a feeling the presidential mantle will come Hughes’s way one day soon.
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