September 25 ,2021
Kaieteur News – My interest is in the various disciplines that make up knowledge centered on history. From 14 years old I loved reading history. It was therefore not accidental that my entry into university was to study history.There is a different feeling a historian has about his/her country than any other profession. There is always the temptation of the history student to put down what he/she sees so it can become history. Someone like the surgeon, accountant, economist, banker, etc., is not driven by that relentless urge.
When I received an email last week about my columns from US-based Guyanese economist, Dr. Tarron Khemraj, and what he went on to state, I replied asking permission to quote.
I know the young social scientists and historians of Guyana should know these things and these things should be part of the recording of Guyanese history.On reading what Dr. Khemraj wrote about Khemraj Ramjattan my mind flashed back to my conversation on the lawns of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre one night with young politician, Kian Jabour from the political party, ANUG. This is the third occasion I am making reference to the event. I told young Jabour that because of my age, I would know negative and uninspiring things about prominent people who this society thinks highly of.
When I read Dr. Khemraj’s email, I know there were things to be published. I never joined a political party so I could never have been a threat to any leader. I am essentially an anarchist in the philosophical sense so I could never be a successful organisational animal.
I long suspected that Ramjattan was not comfortable with his high profile Indian colleagues in the AFC’s leadership, especially Gerhard Ramsaroop. I was an outsider contributing to the dialectics, which had nothing to do with party politics but everything to do with love of country. I chose to help the AFC over the PNC and WPA for one fundamental reason; it was more multi-racial.
After the moral collapse of the AFC when it went into government and its support for electoral criminality, I thought I would do a column on Ramjattan’s insecurity because I saw it. He was always in confrontation with top Indian names in the AFC but got along excellently with his African colleagues including Raphael Trotman with whom he had tempestuous quarrels in 2011. Trotman was one half of the leaders of the AFC and not seen as a competitor to Ramjattan. The Indian leaders in the AFC were.After doing an interview with Rajendra Bissessar, in which he intoned that Ramjattan wanted to chop down every high profile Indian personality in the AFC (see my column of August 26), I decided to analyse Ramjattan’s relation with these Indian figures (see my column of September 2).
Here is what Dr. Khemraj wrote, “It is true that Khemraj feared Indian competition in the AFC. There was very unfair and unfortunate treatment of Gerhard. He also had a bitter falling out with Sase. It is true that Khemraj protected his turf. In 2010 Khemraj and his very wealthy cousin (Dr. Somar) from New Jersey interviewed me in a hotel suite in Orlando. They wanted to make sure I would not challenge Khemraj. Challenging and undermining Khemraj was the last thing I had in mind. During the interview, they asked several times what I wanted. I thought it was a crazy question because the AFC would not win the election.”
I write these things because there are gaps that must be filled. We have seen a constant outpouring of condemnations of the PPP and the PNC the past 70 years. The paradigm we used to study Guyanese politics and have been using has to be replaced. It has become outdated because of dialectical currents that took us to 2011 when the PPP lost a majority and in 2015 when the AFC and WPA acquired state power.Researchers then need to focus on the changing nature of Guyanese politics since 2011. The configurations, permutations and variable have changed. Guyanese politics have become more dangerous and more unpredictable because the mainstream players – PNC and PPP – have been sharing space with other political parties whose capacity to shape events have led to more deleterious effects.
The AFC and WPA have played no small part in taking us to the uncertain stage we are at. It is for this reason I took trenchant umbrage at the implausible analysis of Drs. Alissa Trotz and Arif Bulkan who wrote a long letter during the election fiasco blaming the PPP and PNC for where we are today. Nothing was said about the AFC and WPA that were in government for five years.