Rural dwellers need fair representation

Dear Editor,
AFC activist Sase Singh in a commentary in another section of the media and a few respondents to him have called out the coalition APNU-AFC government for discriminating against rural dwellers (Indo-Guyanese).
Specifically, Sase Singh protested that Ind-Guyanese (and he mentioned Hindus in particular) are under-represented on government enterprises, committees, commissions, organisations, boards, and NGOs. Sase has correctly noted that his (AFC+APNU) government is urban centric and has neglected the rural areas.
He chastises the government for not seeking fair rural representation in its policies and programmes and that it makes virtually no effort to include rural folks in its committees or boards.
Rural dwellers make up over half the population. Yet almost all government appointees are urbanites with very few Indo-Guyanese and Amerindians. And the government commits virtually no resources to rural development.
The problem with Sase Singh’s complaint is that he is complaining like he is an outsider and not blaming the APNU-AFC government for this injustice against Indo-Guyanese, and he writes as though he is not part of the government and that he is begging the urban government to put a few Indo-Guyanese on boards.
He is an official of the government serving on a board and is also an advisor to the government. He also helped brought the coalition to government. Sase is on the executive of the AFC.
When the government changed, he replaced others as a columnist with the state-owned media Chronicle. He helped raise funds for the AFC in 2011 and the PNC-AFC coalition in 2015. He campaigned for the PNC-AFC coalition and organised to remove the PPP from office.
So Sase Singh has some kind of authority to make his influence felt on the regime to correct this injustice meted out to rural folks. It is an urban government and the PNC (APNU) and AFC are largely urban parties; one expects them to take care of their urban base and not pay much heed to the rural folks.
But Sase Singh and others like Leyland Roopnaraine, Joe Ragnauth, etc went down from the US and got the rural folks to vote for the PNC-led coalition with assurance that the urban parties would not discriminate against them.
Without the rural votes, the urban based parties would not have won the election. So those who convinced the rural voters to vote for the urban parties should demand that the rural dwellers be given equity in appointments to boards, government enterprises, and ministries.
The neglect of rural areas is not new. It has been going on since before independence.  The PPP neglected the rural areas and the neglect continued under the PNC; as an urban party, one cannot fault the PNC for marginalising rural dwellers. The PPP/C is to be blamed for rural neglect abusing their supporters. To appease urbanites, the PPP/C forsake rural areas.
The PPP/C is largely a rural party – its base of support is rural. Some 95 per cent of its political support is rural. But a large majority of its MPs are urbanites who don’t understand or relate to rural lifestyle and whose attention is devoted to life in their own urban community.
Even those MPs who are supposed to represent the rural areas (list nominees) are themselves from the urban areas. If they are from the rural areas, when they move to town, they imitate urbanites and could care less about the lives of rural folks.
The few MPs who truly cared about rural life were Ravi Dev (ROAR) and Veerasammy Rammayah (AFC) and that is because they lived in the rural community.
Moses Nagamootoo, Khemraj Ramjattan, Donald Ramotar, Bharrat Jagdeo, Feroze Mohammed, etc are from the rural areas, but they hardly did anything meaningful for rural development as they themselves live in the urban areas, far away from the voters they are supposed to represent.
Once the rural MPs moved to the urban areas, they forget about the rural folks and focus on improving life for the urbanites to which they become. They don’t care for the rural poor. They only want the vote of the rural poor and after the elections they could care less about the rural areas.
The PPP/C gets 95 per cent support from the rural areas but when in government doles out only five per cent of the budget to the rural communities.
The PPP/C focused on the urban areas from which it hardly gets two per cent of the votes. Thus, urban areas are developed and enjoys a relatively higher standard of living whereas rural areas are the most neglected in the country with the lowest standard of living.
Yet, the rural areas contribute the most resources to the country – rice and sugar and other agro-industries have been the mainstay of the economy. At one time, they contributed 90 per cent of revenues of the country and get virtually nothing in return.
The PPP/C should learn from the PNC – it gets 90 per cent support from the urban areas and doles out 95 per cent of the budget to urbanites.
The PNC does not pander to rural folks because it knows Indo-Guyanese would not vote for it except when Moses Nagamootoo brought over the rural votes to make it win the government.
What is Sase Singh going to do to get rural representation in government? Rural voters need fair representation.

Yours truly,
Vishnu Bisram