Kaieteur News – If anyone should possess the institutional memory of the post 1970 history of the PPP, it is Clement Rohee who eventually became leader of the PPP. He was the guest on the Gildarie-Freddie Show on social media a few weeks ago.
On the programme he briefly described what happened behind the closed doors of the PPP’s edifice in the deliberations relating to the presidential candidacy after Cheddi Jagan’s death. I asked Mr. Rohee if he went into details of the circumstances in his autobiography.
He said yes but was extremely brief about the situation in the interview. He simply said that Moses Nagamootoo derailed Ramkarran’s chances of becoming the 1977 presidential choice. Mr. Ramkaran in his Stabroek News column last Sunday rejected Rohee’s contention that Nagamootoo’s quarrel caused him to decline the nomination.
The anonymous Kaieteur News columnist, Peeping Tom then responded to Ramkarran (last Monday) by asserting that it was not the intention of Mrs. Jagan to have anyone, including Ramkarran, succeed her husband except her, and she did succeed him.
I know quite a bit of that important historical discussion. I do not know what Rohee wrote about it in his autobiography so I cannot expand. But I can certainly touch on Ramkarran’s column. A caveat is in order before I proceed. This article here was penned on Monday morning.
I have sent it to three lawyers who I believe are very good in libel matters. I have received their replies on Monday afternoon and have included their responses. All of them indicated that they see nothing libelous and I should go ahead with the publication.
In looking at Mr. Ramkarran’s interpretation of what took place, I have followed the pathway of analysis, that is, simply to express an interpretation of how the players were seen. I did warn Mr. Rohee on the show to be very careful what is said about Mr. Ramkarran. It is my opinion that for the leader of a political party, Mr. Ramkarran is too thin-skinned.
Now for what I was told. The first description of the drama to succeed Jagan came from countless accounts over a long period of time offered to me by Moses Nagamootoo. It is a blow to history that Mr. Nagamootoo has disappeared from the political radar of this country. What he has in his head is the stuff that must be recorded.
Mr. Nagamootoo owes a moral obligation to the historiography of this country to offer his side to what was said in the columns of Peeping Tom and Ralph Ramkarran. Nagamootoo told me that he immediately rejected Ramkarran’s name and had a preference for anyone other than Ramkarran.
He told me the person to be the candidate for the 1997 general election was one who worked for the government after 1992 because after long years in the wilderness, the PPP needed every helping hand from its stalwart to make the government succeed. He said Mr. Ramkarran declined to be the Attorney-General.
Nagamootoo explained that Ramkarran’s name did not have support among the PPP’s big wigs and it was GAWU’s Komal Chand that was very decisive in weakening Ramkarran’s chances. I am not regurgitating what Nagamootoo told me because I have heard sentiments similar to the elaboration of Nagamootoo.
I was very close to Yesu Persaud. In long hours of conversation over many years Mr. Persaud confided many things to me about many events and persons in Guyana. Mr. Persaud did not make any judgment on Mr. Ramkarran. He simply conveyed to me what Mrs. Jagan had told him.
I cannot repeat everything because I fear libel from Mr. Ramkarran. But if Mr. Ramkarran would promise not to sue then gaps in history will be filled because what Mrs. Jagan told Mr. Persaud is what should be part of Guyana’s historiography.
What Mrs. Jagan told Mr. Persaud was not derogatory of Mr. Ramkarran and was not in the remotest way accusations against him. She simply explained to Mr. Persaud her disappointment with the reason Mr. Ramkarran offered to the leadership of the PPP in not joining the government. She did not believe his reason was acceptable. I need to dispel any curiosity of Mr. Ramkarran. Mr. Persaud said nothing accusatory of Mr. Ramkarran in that conversation.
I write this column as a reaction to the contents of Mr. Ramkarran’s output. I don’t believe it is a complete portrayal of the multi-dimensional story of the search for a PPP leader to succeed Dr. Jagan in 1997. Too many parts are left out. I would most kindly ask Mr. Ramkarran if he could provide the dates his two sons left to complete their two years at law school in Trinidad.
(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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