PPP’s 32nd Congress reveals growth, unity and readiness for a long stay in Government

This coming weekend, the PPP’s 32nd Party Congress will see participation by more than 3,000 party delegates from all ten regions of Guyana, from its strongholds and the strongholds of its political opponents. The ethnic and racial mix will reflect Guyana, something no other political party in Guyana can achieve. The congress will elect members of the central committee which will elect the executive, the general secretary and the party’s presidential candidate for Election 2025.
There is not even the remotest chance that Dr. Bharat Jagdeo will not be the General Secretary or that Dr. Irfaan Ali will not be the presidential candidate for Election 2025. If I were a betting man, I would bet every single cent I have that GS Bharat Jagdeo will be reelected unopposed and that President Irfaan Ali will be renominated by the party as its presidential candidate for election 2025.
The 31st congress of the PPP was held in 2016 and that congress elected a central committee, an executive and a GS that took the PPP from opposition to the government. The 2016 Congress elected a central committee that succeeded in achieving something very rare in democracies – it successfully navigated a no-confidence motion against the incumbent government. But the GS and his central committee did not just navigate a journey that ended the PNC-led APNU/AFC tenure in government after just one term, it has also supported the party in government since August 2020 to one of the most astonishingly successful periods of government in the history of Guyana and CARICOM. The achievements of the Irfaan Ali-led PPP Government in less than four years rank the performance of this government as one of the most successful governments anywhere in the world in history.
The party has conducted 31 congresses since 1951 when it held its first congress. Except for a party congress held between February 12 – 13, 1955, when Burnham unsuccessfully conspired with others to rig the party election, every congress of the PPP has been a smooth affair, more of a celebration. When Cheddi Jagan was elected to continue as leader in the 1955 congress, Burnham and his small band who opposed Cheddi Jagan insisted they were the real PPP and so after the 1955 congress, there were two parties – the “J” PPP and the “B” PPP. When the “J” PPP won the Election in 1957, the “B” PPP under Burnham changed its name on October 5, 1957, to the PNC.
When the PPP congress opens on Saturday, May 4, people will see a party not only united but stronger than ever. People will see it in the ambience of the congress, in the faces of the delegates and the confidence of the leadership. There will be no doom and gloom; there will only be confidence, pride and celebration all around the delegates and those watching from near and far. Those who are not PPP supporters will see a united party, but a changing party. The harmony and the blending of culture, ethnicity and race in 1950 that inspired nation-building, that inspired the belief in an independent state, that disappeared after 1953 will be evident again under the banner of ONE GUYANA.
One will see a party that has never been stronger. One will see the youth and know that the party will never be in a position and need to wonder who comes next. When Cheddi was frail, people asked who would walk in his shoes. Bharat Jagdeo walked in his shoes but followed the path Cheddi was taking Guyana. Yet people asked who would walk in BJ’s shoes and the party answered with Irfaan Ali walking in his shoes but staying the course of standing up for the working class, pursuing policies and actions guided by the social justice agenda.
In startling contrast, the PNC is preparing for its congress some time in the next few months. They have only said that it may be held in August. The PNC’s congress is already controversial. Unlike the delegates attending the PPP’s 32nd Congress this weekend which will unanimously reelect BJ as its GS, the delegates attending the PNC’s Congress will participate in an ugly fight between Aubrey Norton and others for leadership. Unlike the PPP’s congress, there is great concern among delegates that the election for the central committee, the executive and the leadership of the PNC will be rigged. There is the ongoing ugly saga of the disappearing computer CPU that contains the names of the members. The story of the disappearing CPU is as clumsy as those stupid conspiracies between March 2 and August 2, 2020, when the PNC tried its best to steal Election 2020.
Whether it’s local government or national elections the party’s own general membership elections, or even party groups’ elections, there are always tainted elections, always stories of rigging. There is also the ongoing tension of violence. In fact, in one party’s general election a few years ago, there were even gun shots. This is the legacy of the PNC. Rigging election is in their DNA. But what is also inevitable is that after the PNC Congress, there will be people sidelined or voluntarily choosing to be bystanders, even a few defections to the PPP. Chaos, conflicts, confusion and disillusionment are natural aftermaths of a PNC Congress.
This weekend, as the PPP celebrates a successful 32nd Congress, there will be thousands of PNC supporters who will wish their party could hold a congress like the PPP. But more importantly, both PPP and PNC supporters will know deep in their hearts that Congress 32 for the PPP sets the stage for the largest-ever victory in a free and fair election that has ever been held in Guyana. People will know that the GS of the PPP and the presidential candidate will lead their party to the PPP’s biggest-ever election victory.