I refer to a letter by Rakesh Rampertab entitled
"Dr. and Mrs. Jagan conspired to deprive Rai of
the post of Party Chairman" (2005.12.22).
In the letter, Dr. and Mrs. Jagan are accused of
being "strategically engaged in fraudulent
election practice" and of depriving Mr. Balram
Singh Rai of the post of Party Chairman. Rampertab
accused the Jagans of "rigging elections."
He also praises Rai to the skies.
He makes a number of serious allegations, which I
will deal with. One is he accuses Dr. Jagan of
"using" Brindley Benn and influencing the
voting for Benn because he was African and because
of the "departures of other Africans from the
Rampertab displays his ignorance of the Party in
these comments. At the time he refers to, 1962,
there were three prominent Black Ministers in the
PPP Government - Vernon Nunes, Brindley Benn and E.
M. G. Wilson - all of whom were very popular in the
PPP and in the country in general. Wilson was
popularly known as the "Admiral" for
keeping the ferries moving when there was an
anti-PPP strike. Nunes and Benn were extremely well
liked at the grass root level, in particular.
Brindley Benn was one of the founders of the PPP.
While Rai was busy contesting the 1953 Elections in
another Party (and winning only some 400 votes),
Benn was a leading PPP activist, the founder and
leader of the Pioneer Youth League, which preceded
the PYO and as Minister of Education, was
responsible for the national awakening interest in
its history and culture. He started History and
Culture Week and was responsible for the historic
slogan "One People, One Nation, One
Destiny." Mr. Benn was put under restriction
orders, like the Jagans after the suspension of the
Constitution in 1953. He and Nunes were later put in
detention in 1964 while they were still ministers,
by the Colonial hierarchy.
I have examined the Party's records of the 10th
Congress held on April 21-23, 1962 at the Guiana
Oriental College in Georgetown to check on the
allegations of rigging contained in Stabroek News.
The records show that, contrary to rigging, there
were 21 Party groups, which nominated Brindley Benn
to be Chairman and 8, which nominated Balram Singh
Rai. This in itself shows that Benn was the popular
The letter states categorically that the man in
charge of elections was Benn. But this is absurd.
Never in the 55 years of the Party has a candidate
been in charge of elections. I attach a copy of
correspondence that shows that Claude Christian was
the Returning Officer and in charge of preparing and
administrating the elections.
I cannot avoid commenting on the spurious and
malignant accusations of electoral rigging levelled
at the Jagans by Rampertab. It is clear that his
letter was intended to smear the Jagans with the tag
of being "election riggers" to match the
PNC which rigged all elections from 1968 to 1985. It
is all part of a plan to hit the PPP by denigrating
its leader Cheddi Jagan and making him and his Party
no better than the real election riggers of the PNC.
But I don't think Guyanese will forget that it
was the PPP led by Cheddi Jagan which first
uncovered the PNC' s electoral rigging in the 1968
elections and fought and exposed it, alone, for many
many years. Civil Society then was afraid of PNC
thuggery and, in fact, three journalists in 1973
lost their jobs because they exposed the vicious
election rigging that year. They were Rickey Singh,
Rick Mentus of the Guyana Graphic and Father Wong, a
Catholic Priest, who had been editor of the Catholic
Mr. Rampertab also alleges that Dr. Jagan
"was forced to abide with the decisions of his
wife." This is nonsense, which those hostile to
the PPP often allege. As a long standing member of
the PPP and its Central and Executive Committees, I
know that Janet Jagan and all of us have the same
rights at meetings where all the basic decisions
have been and are made. Dr. Jagan was not a man to
dictate or "rule" on his own. All the
Party's decisions have been collectively made.
The PPP has always been the champion of
democracy. Internally it practices democracy to its
fullest. Rai was defeated fairly and squarely by
Donald Ramotar, M.P.