When the Brian Tiwari imbroglio became public, my mind flew immediately to Raymond Gaskin. One has to be careful what one writes about Gaskin. He will sue you for libel each day of the year. He is also fond of testifying in libel trials as he did more than once against the Kaieteur News (a paper he seems to dislike but happy to have his views published in its pages). Gaskin has been a long standing consultant of Tiwari (Gaskins says he is not an employee of BK because a consultant is not an employee- I don’t accept the separation). I am wondering if it was on Gaskin’s advice that Tiwari volunteered to clean up the perimeters of the Brickdam Independence Arch for the 2015 observance of Independence.
My sources tell me Tiwari leans a lot on Gaskin for advice. Gaskin is a virtual mystery man in the history of Guyanese politics. You cannot pin him down. You do not know which political sphere he belongs to. You simply do not know which party he prefers. It has been like this for over sixty years with Gaskin. He went on a PPP scholarship to Russia in 1962. Returned as a frenetic, Jaganite Stalinist but took a job as the CEO of a capitalist company headed by an Indian businessman who was also a medical doctor, Rowti Prashad of Prashad Hospital.
While remaining faithful to his Marxism, he became involved in a capitalist middle class party, the Guyana Anti-Discrimination Movement formed by Dr. Prashad, Dr. Gunraj Kumar and a few Indian businessmen. He became the Editor of that party’s organ, The Liberator. During the long years of PNC rule, he moved between the PPP and WPA, even renting the bottom flat of the WPA’s headquarters on Croal Street to open a business selling Canadian-imported bicycles (I bought one). But when the PPP won the 1992 elections, he became one of the most powerful men in the Cheddi Jagan Government, operating in the Ministry of Finance and heading the Board of the then GPL. His action as a powerful player in the PPP Government with frequent skirmishes between the Public Service Union and the Government brought an end to his relationship with the WPA. It was in this period he got the nickname, “Rambo” for firing Public Servants without hesitation. But the mysterious “Rambo” remained a slippery customer.
This man then turned up as a consultant to the Guyana Public Service Union and was intimately involved in the union’s long strike against the Janet Jagan administration in 1999. During the negotiations with the Minister of Labour, Dr. Henry Jeffrey, the Minister had cause to refer to Gaskin’s behaviour as disruptive. The strike collapsed. Gaskin and Union Leader, Patrick Yarde parted company in acrimonious pyrotechnics. Next, Gaskin turned up as an Advisor to TUC General-Secretary, Lincoln Lewis where he was given a position at the Critchlow Labour College.
But in all these changing times, Gaskin still referred to himself as a Communist and still had enduring relations with the Jagdeo Government. He was awarded a consultancy to examine the books of City Hall by the Minister of Local Government. In his report he recommended charges for financial inexplicabilities. In the meantime, Gaskin developed a close relationship with outspoken PPP critic, Christopher Ram. Together they hosted a television programme titled, “Keeping them honest,” apart from being a frequent guest on Ram’s interview programme, “Plain Talk”.
Then came one of the biggest mysteries of politics ever in Guyana. When the sole member of the Broadcasting Authority, Chairman Evan Persaud, who was a card-bearing PPP member suspended CN Sharma from broadcasting for six months, Gaskin and Ram were part of the picketing protestors (along with others including this Columnist). But Gaskin was the legal defendant of Evan Persaud when UG hauled him before a disciplinary committee for talking obscene things in front of his classes. Then Registrar of UG, Vincent Alexander said Gaskin’s defence of Persaud was far from acceptable. Alexander mentioned one incident, but with Gaskin’s prodigious penchant for litigation, I will let that one pass.
So we come to March 2016 and the Tiwari fiasco. Gaskin remains a consultant to the multi-billionaire while I still believe he remains true to his communist beliefs. Did Gaskin advise Tiwari to make a pitch towards the new government after May 2015? If I were a betting man I would say yes. I have known Gaskin since I was eighteen years old. I devoted an entire column on him in 1993 as a Stabroek News columnist (see “Fireball and Rambo,” Stabroek News, November 11, 1993). Rambo lost the Tiwari game and lost badly too.
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