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By GHK Lall
Of all the things to speak of where the People’s National Congress (PNC) is, and where it is going, it took a birthday party for a seasoned stalwart to convey where matters stand.
A picture so revealing of possible internal animosities and fractures did more than convey what the sad story of the PNC is. It confirms where not just this most major plank in the coalition opposition is, but also where the opposition as a whole itself is. The surfacing of this birthday snapshot speaks on some many different levels, of some much thoughtlessness, of so much selfishness that it compels a shaking of my head. I fear for this country.
I fear for Guyana, because we have a PPP Government that is running rampant, and we have an opposition that is a cancer to itself. I think that the leaders and luminaries in the party, the PNC, possess sufficient wisdom, enough street sense, and plenty of old fashion commonsense to know that what seeped out into the public is both counterproductive and self-destructive. I tender this looking across many broad fronts.
Somebody had to have had the good sense to recognize that the family laundry stays inside. Thus, to put it out into the wildfire that is social media represents incomparable thoughtlessness and recklessness. Why broadcast the dissensions and distancing that clearly plagues this group that has not overcome its bruising and obviously still piercing infighting over the leadership position. Then, for a cohort of veteran political players in Guyana to gather in celebration, and not even have the courtesy to seek, to insist on, the presence of the official leader of the PNC only resonates in a certain way, from my perspective. This was of a birthday party of a one-time party leader that is of a group that may no longer even deserve to be called a political party.
As seen, somebody should have had the smarts to extend an invitation to what I have to term, the other side of the PNC. At least, go through the motions, if only to maintain the pretense of internal unity for public consumption. For reasons that may have to do with the grueling struggles for leadership of the party, what played out was a fair imitation of the mean spiritedness and vindictiveness that I thought was owned lock, stock, and barrel by one other political senior in this country. He is not from the PNC, but in the topmost leadership ranks of the PPP. If the people involved in this were not public figures, a less watched group (especially at this post leadership election stage), then it wouldn’t have risen to the level of interest and concern-and to be sure much disparaging comment-since it would not have been anybody’s business, possibly very few caring.
But this is a development inside a national political party involving national leaders of some standing, if only to their own segment of the population. I hurry to add that it is a segment that becomes, after an initial burst of expectation, more and more disillusioned with each passing day, and whenever situations like this birthday business arise. It is a pathetic state for any group to be in, and sends the wrong type of message to loyalists, and the country at large. It is sad because here it is that Guyanese are yoked underway a crooked PPP Government, and with little going for them by way of the kind of leadership urgently needed, and the degree of internal cohesion demanded of the party for a time like this. There is so much hanging on the strength of the new PNC leader and his team, but the reality is that there is this sharp and now public division that is the latest embarrassment in a long line of recent embarrassments.
Regardless of how this is viewed, even with the kindest light shun on this birthday without a full deck of candles, it looks bad and is bad. In essence. In principle. In prospects for the future. It is revealing in who was invited and made sure that they were present; and who was not extended a hand of comradeship and friendship grasping a belated or reluctant invitation and, hence, was not there. If there was a message somewhere in that negligence, that discourtesy-maybe even breach of unstated protocol-it was of intentional spurning and definite scorning. It was of those who do not belong and have no rightful place, those who are held as upstarts and usurpers, those who are just not one of us and, therefore, must not be among us.
If there is this intensity of feeling, of disunity, and of disrespect, inside the upper ranks of the PNC party, then there is scant likelihood that there can be trust and confidence that either the party or its leadership have what it takes, would be able to rise, to lead the way forward for this divided country. Or that it is capable of unifying its helplessly polarized people. Not many within the electorate would want to waste their precious vote on a group, and on people, who can’t get their act together, who can’t let bygones be, and who can manifest that they are ready to take the reins of something bigger than the party and run with it.
Although the new leader and the people in his team (coming across from this episode as if they are a treacherous breakaway faction) were on the receiving end of this insulting moment, they are the ones who are sure to experience the brunt of the fallout. That is, the mockeries, the suspicions, and all the chatter about weaknesses and not being ready as a unit to go anywhere. The PNC has to get its own house in order first, and make a persuasive case of having done so. Some need to get with the idea that there is a sunrise, and they have had their time. They really should gracefully ride into the sunset.