…working to destroy stereotype of being “Indian” party – Jagdeo
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo says for too long there has been rhetoric that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is a one-race party when in fact it has been working, and will continue to work, for the betterment of the entire Guyanese population.
Jagdeo, who is also the Party’s General Secretary, said that any government the PPP headed would work for all Guyanese regardless of their race, religion, or geographic location.
However, he noted that its political opponents have always stereotyped the PPP as pro-Indian and the Party did not do enough to tackle or change this perception.
“Stereotype exists about the PPP historically and that kept a lot of people away from us… When you take an issue of this nature and spin it in the villages that [the PPP] is a racist party and it’s an Indian party – it’s not true … Our party has made it clear that any government that we head will work for all Guyanese. We are carrying a national message for our people,” Jagdeo contended.
Having recognised this deficiency, the Opposition Leader revealed that the PPP was working hard to get more Afro-Guyanese to join the Party.
“[People were told] that this is a racist, Indian party and you can’t rise up in the Party. And when Afro-Guyanese came to us, they were vilified; their names were dragged in the mud; they were called stooges, slaves and all sort of things. Not because they believed in the programme we’re pursuing. And for a long time, I don’t think we aggressively fight it, but we are doing that now,” the PPP General Secretary noted.
He recalled that when the PPP was set up in 1950 to fight for independence, it was set up as a class-based party. But he noted that although it was seen as a most pro-business party, it was also viewed as the most pro-workers’ party. This, he posited, is because the Party’s policies would reflect its agenda that aimed for betterment of all Guyanese.
One such policy, he pointed out, is the housing programme which the PPP started when it got into office and saw thousands of Guyanese benefiting.
“When we took office, there was no housing programme, there was no ministry, no funds. By the time we left office, you had more Guyanese owning homes. Over 75,000 of the 100,000 promised house lots were given out. We’re making a promise again to go back to that – that 75 per cent of the house lots we produce – nearly 50,000 – in the next term will be under a $100,000,” he stated.
Furthermore, Jagdeo reminded of other policies such as the $10,000 school grant and water and electricity subsidies. These, he stressed, did not go to PPP supporters alone but all Guyanese.
To this end, the Opposition Leader noted that the Party has intensified its efforts to net more Afro-Guyanese supporters. Already, he said, they are making their case by sitting down and talking to people to show that the PPP is a national party.