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There is a rising demand observed in social media calling for David Arthur Granger, Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), to step down from party leadership. Notably this is not a new development but one observed as long as before the no confidence motion in December 2018, supported by a coalition member from the Alliance For Change who tipped the scale in favour of the then opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C). It is no longer a secret therefore that some members of the coalition were dissatisfied with the leadership they were witnessing.
Beyond the confidence motion, and many grumblings about the quality and style of his leadership that many felt made him far removed from the rank and file members, who felt he was in-approachable and not amenable to ideas from others, there was the instance of party upheaval over the Vanessa Kissoon incident with then General Secretary, Oscar Clarke. Kissoon represents the younger energetic generation of the PNCR and demonstrates a brand of politics that is aggressive in a progressive way. She is loved by Lindeners and admired by many in other regions of the country and diaspora.
Her hard working and astute politics placed her in the line of attack by many seniors within her political realm. Notwithstanding challenges, and being banned from the party for refusing to apologise over an incident that she believed she was the victim of, and merely responded accordingly, it was Kissoon and then Regional Chairman, Sharma Solomon, who together played a significant role rallying the Region for the 2015 elections. They did this despite protest and condemnation of Granger’s management of the party.
Their political militancy was so significant that the coalition, which had a weak campaign strategy, chose Linden to launch the 2015 campaign. One would expect that after demonstration of such hard work and commitment that this hardworking committed PNCR woman would have been embraced by those who benefited from her activism. Instead, there appeared to be an insensitive callous streak of thinking that continues to wage war against these two young people.
In 2015 the rejected was the drawing card at the coalition Women’s Rally where she appeared sporting the green and yellow colours, in a flashy little dress and matching high heeled shoes, one side green and the other side yellow, cutting quite a flamboyant picture. She was greeted with thunderous applaud throughout her speech Many people were overheard saying they came to the rally to hear Vanessa Kissoon, the PNCR firebrand, and she did not disappoint. She worked the crowd up to fervour with her memorable challenge to former President Bharrat Jagdeo when she called on him to debate her. Her appearance was so powerful that a picture of her with her hand in the air was captured for a posture with the words “Jagdeo, debate me.”
Mr. Granger, the Leader of the Party, who rejected her, demonstrated greater political and emotional maturity when asked why she is still campaigning for a party whose leader treated her so badly. She responded in a quiet determined manner, that it is not about her or Mr Granger; it is about the party, the young people, and the country. Notwithstanding the challenges she faced in the party in 2015, in 2020 she once again campaigned to re-elect David Arthur Granger. However, when invited by others leaders on the national platform to speak, where her name was advertised on a flyer as a drawing card, and people turned up to hear her, she was not allowed to speak reportedly at the behest of the Leader of the party that she supports.
There is lots of dissent in the PNCR, most of which is centered on the ineffectiveness and concerns surrounding David Granger’s leadership. Even among his military comrades there are serious concerns. Reference is made to his text book approach to leadership, devoid of context and reasoning, and often unilateral decision-making, ignoring the need for discussions and consensus at a wider level. Supporters are also dissatisfied with his response to the 2020 Elections and blame him for not taking strident actions to challenge and stop the PPP/C executing are themselves extremely dissatisfied and desirous of seeing his back.
The party members must make a choice between the Kissoon progressive, inclusive and selfless brand of politics, and the Granger brand of passive aggressive divisiveness. This decision must come sooner than later as the party faces challenges in relation with the coalition, supporters and traditional friends of the PNCR. Vanessa Kissoon remains a much liked figure as David Granger’s popularity wanes. Even after being out of active politics for five years she remains a drawing card and representation of the type of struggle the party needs to manifest right now. It is time the women of the party embrace this young woman and ensure that she is returned to the party fold where her energy, strength, loyalty and commitment are very much needed and second to none.