Ramjattan would have been given short shrift in the PNC
Stabroek News
March 4, 2004

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Dear Editor,

I have been reading with scant interest the Khemraj Ramjattan political soap opera with the PPP/C and it always seem more like an internal party issue that found its way in the public domain.

Then I read the letter, "Mr Ramjattan precipitated his own expulsion," by PPP/C General Secretary, Donald Ramotar, and your news story, "Shunned Ramjattan wants back in," both of which appeared in your Sunday, February 29, 2004, edition, and from a perspective of principle, the PPP/C cannot be faulted for expelling Mr Ramjattan.

I have since reckoned also that as bright and promising as his future looked in the party, he lacked the requisite support from what I'd like to call 'campers' or a support base in the party on which he could rely to successfully change the party from within, so he resorted to airing his differences with the party through his media pieces. He obviously was frustrated.

As much as I am tempted to admire his candor in taking sharp shots at his party and government in an effort to bring about badly needed changes in both institutions, I think he failed to understand that the tried and proven route to bring about change in any organization is to remain in the organization and build a ground swell of support for your ideas leading to your goal.

There is no organization, especially operating in a politically competitive environment, which would countenance a high level operative openly doing what Mr Ramjattan did in his media pieces. That Mr Moses Nagamootoo, who backed Mr Ramjattan's claim against President Bharrat Jagdeo, has not been expelled, could be because Mr Nagamootoo was not as constantly openly abrasive as Mr Ramjattan. The key word is 'constantly.'

If Mr Ramjattan were a PNC operative doing the same thing under Forbes Burnham or Desmond Hoyte, he'd be out on the first go round, and likely hassled out of the country.

In fact, the PNC, led by both Burnham and Hoyte, operated in a highly disciplined manner and brooked no such behaviour from any of its rank and file members. No one can easily forget Mr Hoyte's 1992 expulsion of Mr Hamilton Green from the PNC after the PNC lost to the PPP and Mr Green went public labelling Mr Hoyte a schoolboy (probably because the latter agreed to a Jimmy Carter-brokered deal for free and fair elections resulting in the PNC's loss), and refusing Mr Hoyte's choice of him as the PNC's representative on the Elections Commission.

In retrospect, had Mr Green possessed the level of self-discipline that strong leaders under stress are required to exhibit, he, not Hoyte, likely could have been the PNC leader today.

How? By simply going along with Hoyte's game plan, he could have worked his way towards the next congress when the nomination for party leader would be due, and let it be known he would consider being nominated.

At that time, Mr Green had what I earlier referred to as 'campers' or people backing him in the party, and Mr Hoyte had no such special group of supporters, hence the speculation that Mr Hoyte leaned heavily on Mr Robert Corbin, who had 'campers' in the party, to stave off any possible challenge from Mr Green and eventually kicked his nemesis out at the opportune moment.

Even former PNC General Secretary, Mr Aubrey Norton, paid a dear price for publicly going against the grain when Mr Hoyte was party leader. Mr Corbin, on the other hand, learned how to play along to get along, and is now party leader.

And then during the mismanaged street demonstrations in which the PNC participated a couple of years ago, PNC Chairman Vincent Alexander and Reform representative Raphael Trotman began expressing resolution-seeking views that seemed to reflect confusion at the decision-making level of the PNC, and this prompted deputy party leader Mr Corbin to call a halt to the practice.

Judging from the absence of their diverse comments in the media, both Messrs Alexander and Trotman apparently fell in line and are still in the party, which is where they should be if they still have workable solutions to offer and pursue to make their party and Guyana better.

I think that at this juncture of both the PPP/C and PNCR's way of doing business, the Nagamootoos, Ramjattans, Trotmans and Alexanders are onto something that is permeating the political atmosphere in Guyana: a recognition of the need for change in the political structure, policies and operations of their respective parties, and consequently, the way their parties should run the country.

But are those who remain in their respective parties willing to temper their burning desire for such change by remaining there and building up members' support for their goals, while awaiting the opportune time to effect such change? Or are they going to risk premature moves resulting in their expulsion and a consequent abortion of their dreams?

In the meantime, it remains to be seen whether Mr Ramjattan will be readmitted to a party that has shown just cause why it expelled him but, at the same time, does not seem amenable to the changes he so badly wants to effect in the party.

Yours faithfully,

Emile Mervin