By Roy Singh
In the early 1960’s, I was extremely privileged, regrettably so, to be present at Freedom House in Robb St, when people were being threatened that if they voted for Balram Singh Rai to be the Deputy Leader of the PPP, that they would live to regret it. At that time, this stalwart son of British Guiana, the Hon Balram Singh Rai, was the Minister of Home Affairs, & vying to be the Deputy Leader of the Party.
The Party Leader’s preferred Candidate for Deputy Leader was the Hon Brindley Horatio Benn. This was to maintain the idea of the two main races in British Guiana to be at the top jointly, thereby removing the possibility of the two top leaders being of one race, thus alleviating ‘Aaapan Jaat’ from the equation(meaning Vote for your own race).
This was a really commendable idea & was put into action by Dr Cheddi Jagan specifically for that above purpose. This plan however created a victim, the Hon Balram Singh Rai, who was also contending for the Deputy Party Leader’s position. This extremely bright, astute, brilliant & capable future leader of British Guiana & subsequently ‘Guyana’, was forced to create what was the ‘Justice Party’.
My privilege to be at Freedom House was due to my PYO membership & my close association w/ the late Pt Reepu Daman Persaud.
Now, because the PPP & PNC were the dominant political forces in the country, the Justice Party was doomed to failure. The above story is one one of the great tragedies of Guyana’s politics. ‘Oh, what could have been’ (OMG).
I have not spoken often about this scenario, because my heart cries to even think about it. All the suffering that the Guyanese people endured over the years could have been averted. My heart cries till now.
While living in London, England (1965-1986), I met the Hon Balram Singh Rai on a double decker London Transport red bus, traveling from Southall (Middx) to Shepherd’s Bush)London W12). After brief re-introductions, we both stepped off the bus & chatted for over an hour at a bus stop shed. That was was the last time that I have set eyes on him. He was a gentleman to the core. Not many people have his class, demeanor, humility, absolute brilliance & height of intelligence.
I sincerely apologize for bringing this sad & tragic story to you, but by doing so, I have released a burden that I have carried for over 57 years.