– says party follows a Pro-Poor approach to growth, development
At the opening of the PPP’s 31st Congress, last December, where he was latter to receive the largest number of votes that led to him being elected as the General Secretary, Opposition Leader Bharat Jagdeo disavowed the party being shackled to any “isms”. However, in a letter to the press last week, Central Committee Member Hydar Ali, asserted there “was no confusion in the PPP’s ideology” and cited a 1993 quote from Cheddi Jagan that claimed the PPP was “guided by the principles of Marxism-Leninism”.
But in comments solicited by the Guyana Times newspaper, PPP Executive Committee member, Irfaan Ali, cleared up the evident contradiction between the two statements.
“Hydar Ali, has quoted Dr Jagan’s position from 1993, 24 years, ago. If he had quoted Dr Jagan from 24 years before that – 1969, he would have heard something different. That year Dr Jagan declared the PPP had “decided to transform itself from a loose, mass party into a disciplined Leninist-type party.” A “Leninist” party is a totally different entity than “a party guided by the principles of Marxism-Leninism”.
A Leninist party would never have countenanced the conclusion of Dr Jagan’s quote: “…and with the aim of building a democratic and humane society with a multi-party parliamentary system.”
“Wasn’t it Lenin who dissolved the elected Constituent Assembly in 1918 because it was “too bourgeois” and prevented the evolution of a western style democracy?” asked Irfaan Ali rhetorically. “ The point I am making is that Dr Jagan, had become very pragmatic by the 1990’s and we see this exemplified in the policies and programmes he followed,” Irfaan Ali concluded. “Pragmatic in a very principled sense.”
Asked by the reporter to offer some examples of Jagan;s “pragmatism”, the Central Committee Finance Secretary pointed to Dr Jagan accepting the neo-Liberal premises of the IMF Stabilisation Programme to which President Desmond Hoyte had signed onto in 1989. “This was anathema to even a mild cooperative socialist like Forbes Burnham, who had rejected the IMF programme before he died. Dr Jagan had come a long way from arguing with Burnham who was a “Bolshevik” and who was a “Menshevik”
Questioned as to what Dr Jagan might have espoused in 2017, Mr Ali replied, “This is obviously speculation, but with a man like Dr Jagan, who was focused on his goals of improving the standard of living of the ordinary citizens by whatever means necessary, I can project from his own actions he would have followed closely the collapse of ideology across the socialist world. He might have followed Deng Xio Ping’s philosophy that “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is white or black, as long as it catches mice.”
Prodded to say if there is any conflict between the views expressed by Hydar Ali and himself, Irfaan Ali took some time to respond. “You have to understand that change is always difficult and the PPP must be constantly aware and ready to respond to changes internally and externally as it confronts both domestic and international challenges. It’s a new world. The new General Secretary made it quite clear at the opening at the 31st congress where the party stand. We are a party grounded in the struggle for the working class. Hydar’s letter highlighted a particular thinking and what Dr Jagan’s reaction might have been at one point in the past. But the present is radically different and not to change our responses will be to court inevitable death. He and others in the party will accept that Dr Jagan was willing to listen and change his thinking when the “objective conditions”, as he put it, had changed.”
But asked whether in fact, Mr Hydar Ali, as Education Secretary, had not pronounced definitively on the PPP’s ideology in the present, Irfaan Ali was firm. “As we go forward as a party, comrade Hydar knows that our party will encourage debate and discussion and try to arrive at a consensus, knowing that is not easy. After all, comrade Hydar would remember Dr Jagan has said there can’t be ‘all unity and no struggle’ within the party”
With this new “openness” Irfaan Ali was asked whether this was part of what GS Jagdeo had espoused to have many ex-PPPites return to the fold. “Definitely! I see the approach to be as broad as possible with room for healthy debate on every issue. Both young and old has an equal stake in building a party that is resilient, proactive and flexible without changing its fundamental principles. At the end of the day leaders must be able to learn and unlearn if we are to remain relevant to a drastically changing environment. What I know for sure is that in Government the PPP followed a pro-poor approach to growth and development. Wealth creation is critical for economic transformation but must simultaneously improve the stock of the poor and working class whilst reducing the gap of inequality.”