Kaieteur News – Mrs. Janet Jagan was one of the craftiest politicians in the PPP. Following the death of her husband, she showed how shrewd a politician she was.
She would have heard, during the hospitalisation of her husband in the United States, about the maoneuvres which were taking place privately about a possible successor to Cheddi.
Cheddi did succumb. Janet Jagan, his wife and most senior party leader, came back ready for those who were privately plotting to succeed him.
She returned with her husband’s body armed with a letter which he had signed designating her as his choice to succeed him. Given Cheddi’s stature within the party, this was her ticket to be the party’s Presidential candidate for the 1997 general and regional elections.
If there were any doubts that she desired to succeed her husband, these were dispelled by her deportment when he stepped off the plane. She did not shed a tear publicly. She projected the image of a woman in command, strong and unbending, not a woman who was weak and in mourning. She was projecting the image of a President-in-waiting
Janet Jagan was a cunning political tactician. She could not have survived politically for so long without a Machiavellian streak. As much as she had the party’s support sewn up, she wanted to expose the hands of those who harboured ambitions to succeed her husband. She was keen to expose those who could threaten her future Presidency.
All along Janet Jagan came back with one plan in mind: to succeed her husband. She played the PPP’s Central Committee like a banjo drum so to flesh out those who harboured ambitions to succeed her husband.
She made a deft political ploy. She threw a cat among the pigeons when she approached Ralph Ramkarran to ask him whether he would be interested in the job. Among the working class, he was a relative political unknown. He did not hold public office between 1992 and 1997 and therefore was not well-known among the working class. Even though he was the son of a PPP stalwart and a man long seen as Cheddi’s right hand, Boysie Ramkarran, Ralph was not among those whose names were being bandied about as possible successors to Cheddi.
The name most featured among working class people was Reepu Daman Persaud, the man many saw as the third in command after Janet. He was the name most cited as likely to succeed Cheddi as the party’s presidential candidate.
Janet, however, was keen to expose those with ambitions to succession. Ralph Ramkarran was the cat which she threw among the pigeons. And immediately the fight began. One person got up and tore into Ramkarran.
He has written about this episode in this week’s Conversation Tree. His middle class background would not have prepared him for such a stern political onslaught.
Janet Jagan knew fully well that the party’s leadership would not go for a candidate like Ramkarran who did not have the standing among the working class and whose names was hardly featured as a successor to Cheddi.
But having thrown his name in the hat, the others with ambitions had no choice but to respond. One man got up and ripped Ramkarran’s credentials to shreds. But in so doing, he also exposed his own ambitions, and in a communist party that is a surest route to be purged. From that moment onwards that person’s fate was sealed.
The one person who understood the machinations which were taking place was Roger Luncheon. He adopted the most logical and sensible position. He effectively was questioning ‘why the party was debating about a candidate when we have the best person here, Janet Jagan’. Not only was she the most senior party leader – already a virtual elder – but she was the best-suited person to attract a sympathy vote from the masses.
But Dr. Luncheon must have also seen through her ploy to expose those with ambitions or he could have been part of the plan hatched by Janet. He tried to save those persons from committing political suicide. But the die was already cast and could not be reversed.
Those who attacked Ramkarran’s presidency and those who failed to lend their support to it had no choice. Once the cat was among the pigeons, there was bound to be a confrontation.
This played right into the hands of Janet. She had them where she wanted them. And since they could not decide, she ended up deciding for them. She decided on herself. She was among the smartest politicians that ever lived.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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