The dust up between the India’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Mr. Venkatachalam, and Director of Communications, Imran Khan, has engaged the attention of Prime Moses Nagamottoo.
This was disclosed by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon at his post-cabinet media briefing.
Harmon told reporters that Government does not endorse the Facebook post by Khan which questioned the Indian Government’s decision to exclude Coalition Government Ministers from the conference for Members of Parliament of Indian heritage which was held in Indian on Tuesday.
“I have seen the article in the newspaper and what I would say is that it does not represent the position of the Government,” Harmon stated.
Khan took to Facebook on Wednesday evening, stating that ‘something smells and it ain’t parfum’. He questioned whether the Indian High Commission in Guyana was interfering in Guyana’s internal affairs and attempting to engage in the destabilisation of the Coalition Government.
Khan’s portfolio falls under the Prime Minister’s office. He is also a high-ranking official of the Alliance For Change (AFC), which makes up the Coalition Government.
Khan’s Facebook post was in connection with the 23 representatives from Guyana who attended the special conference for the People of Indian Origin Members of Parliament, held in India.
Guyana’s delegation was the largest and included 20 MPs, 17 from the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and three from the Coalition Government.
“Were any of the Indo-Guyanese Ministers of Government and sitting Members of Parliament invited to the Persons of Indian Origin Members of Parliament Conference currently ongoing in India? Or did the High Commission only and deliberately invite three Coalition Government backbench parliamentarians while specifically ignoring ministers? If so, on what basis was this decision made?” Khan questioned.
Harmon stated that Government shares excellent relations with India through a mutually beneficial arrangement that in the event of an aberration both sides can basically agree on what is the view of the government.
Khan, yesterday, doubled on his previous assertions by pointing to Jamaica’s Attorney General, Marlene Malahoo-Forte’s attendance at the conference. According to Khan, Malahoo-Forte is an elected member of the Jamaica Parliament and a ranking member of Cabinet.
“She was invited to and attended the Persons of Indian Origin Parliamentarians Conference in New Delhi, India. No Minister from Guyana was invited. Only non-minister MPs were invited from Guyana. Why the double standard?” Khan questioned.
Harmon stated that there is not much control that that Government can exercise over postings made by Government employees on their personal pages.
“This question of people posting on their blogs and so on, there is not much control which you can exercise over it because people put up things on their personal pages and all we can do is ask that if you are in Government that you exercise a certain amount of restraint in putting out information there which are your personal opinions.
In the initial post, Khan tagged the Indian High Commissioner. Several comments supported Khan’s decision to express his views via his personal Facebook page while others were critical of a senior government spokesman making his views public.
Some persons called on Khan to remove the post, among them Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence.
“This is distasteful and not in keeping with how this Government treats their guests,” Lawrence stated in response to Khan’s post. It was later removed.
The High Commissioner described Khan’s comments as reckless in addressing a serious issue on social media. He stated that comments were a clear intention to mislead the general public by none other than Director of Public Information.
“[It] is unfortunate, irresponsible, unprofessional and to say the least, mischievous, given the excellent bilateral relations being enjoyed by both India and Guyana and the ongoing friendly cooperation in various multilateral fora,” Mahalingam stated.
According to Indian officials, the PPP delegation was led by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo; and includes Clement Rohee, Irfaan Ali, Anil Nandlall, Dr. Frank Anthony, Dharamkumar Seeraj, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, Indranie Chandarpal, Collin Croal, Bheri S. Ramsarran, Zulfikar Mustapha, Ganga Persaud, Neendkumar, Dr. Vishwa Mahadeo, Nigel Dharamlall, Bhagmattie Veerasammy and Vickram Bharrat.
The coalition members who attended the conference are Rajcoomarie Bancroft, Charrandass Persaud and Haimraj Rajkumar.
Corriverton’s Mayor, Krishnand Jaichand, was in attendance along with Anna Regina’s Mayor, Rabindranauth Mohan, and Vijay Ramoo, the Mayor of Rose Hall.
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