Mr. Jagdeo’s character must be judged by his attitude to the libel writ he filed against me and this newspaper. The man’s boast of having his day in court was carried boldly in the state media.
Jagdeo didn’t turn up to testify. Instead Dr Roger Luncheon turned up and testified on behalf of Jagdeo. Luncheon didn’t appear to be robust physically and had to be helped into the court, and was allowed to sit and give testimony rather than stand in the witness box.
This entire country knows why Jagdeo did not offer evidence. What we knew about him would have been amplified. What we don’t know about him would have come to light. Having run from a fight in the libel trial, Jagdeo is trying to cultivate the image of a political pugilist. He yelled out at his press conference that he would debate the opposition leaders.
He knows that he will be ignored because he is not the presidential or prime ministerial candidate, therefore protocol will not allow it. It is just a silly little boast to get attention. Jagdeo knows an election debate is always between the top two of the battling parties, so there is no chance of Granger or Moses Nagamootoo taking him head on. Jagdeo knows too that the AFC leader will not debate him, because he is not the de jure leader of the PPP.
It would be better for Jagdeo to know his place and take on one of the executives from both APNU and the AFC. And since there are some small parties contesting, Jagdeo cannot exclude them from the contest. In other words, any election campaign between Jagdeo and executives of APNU and the AFC must also involve leaders of all the contesting parties. This will allow Mark Benschop to have a go at Jagdeo.
Having tried a thing with his debate offer, Jagdeo put his foot in his mouth when he described Cheddi Jagan’s house as being fancy for that particular era; that is the sixties and seventies. Countless critics have jumped on him for that egregious insult to Cheddi Jagan and his wife, but missed out on a hidden dimension of Jagdeo’s statement.
In making reference to how Jagan lived and dismissing the luxury of his lifestyle, Jagdeo was trying to deflect the raging tide of corruption charges that have dogged his administration and which have extirpated completely his attempts to birth a legacy. Jagdeo knows that he will never be admired and put in the same presidential category of the two Jagans, Burnham and Hoyte, because the corruption culture that canopied his twelve-year-old rule has effectively destroyed his image.
Knowing that he is the face of the PPP’s 2015 campaign (what a silly, shameless, humiliated, self-erasing man Ramotar is), he knows he has to devise a dam to stop the flow of the corruption tide. He fired the first salvo in that strategy at his press conference and he was an abysmal failure.
In trying to use the house of Dr. Jagan to tell the nation that as a past president, he must live in comfort, he failed to show what he never had – intellectual thinking.
He chose the wrong subject. This entire country knows that both Jagan and Burnham respectively had a peculiar strong point that cannot be touched. Burnham was madly in love with Guyana, so his nationalism was above reproach. Jagan was madly in love with communism and had no time for luxury and wealth.
Instead of choosing a safe pitch to bat on, Jagdeo played cricket in the rain and his innings got washed out. It would have been better to leave Jagan’s house out of the strategy. But Jagdeo had to defend Jagdeo’s opulent lifestyle. And in defending such an abomination, he stumbled fatally, and this will deter him from entering any debate.
Jagdeo’s fatal weakness in bringing Jagan’s house into the picture was that Jagan was never in control of the country’s treasury, so he could not have been accused of corruption. He was Premier under the colonial governor, so his spending had colonial supervision. When he became president, he died three years after.
It was during Jagdeo’s tenure that daily accusation became a stuck record – “lil” boys with no previous possession of even modest sums of money and with the most powerful government jobs paying peanuts, how did they (Jagdeo and his acolytes in the Cabinet and the upper echelons of the public sector) get that kind of money to build houses whose value the nation knew.
For example, Jagdeo’s first house was sold for $130 million. Where did he get that sum from?
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