Regarding the ruckus on New Market Street that saw charges laid against the Mayor of Georgetown, Pandit Ubraj Narine, in his letter “The Mayor and Mr Norton should be ashamed of their conduct” (Stabroek News, December 16, 2022), Dr. Josh Kanhai, writes “Mr. Narine along with Mr. Norton, the leader of the APNU, has shown their natural ability of politicizing every issue and playing the race card as their first line of defence… Mayor Narine would have not have done his job over the two years and his recent actions support the theory that this was with the pure intention of gaining political points”.
In his letter Dr Kanhai identifies himself as “Independent Candidate, Municipality Five, Georgetown”. In 2020 he was also the Founder and Chairman of The New Movement (TNM), one of the new political parties that contested the March 2, 2020, General and Regional Elections. At the recent COI into the elections, Dr Kanhai stated that during the declaration of the results of the elections, when fraudulent figures were being declared at the Ashmin’s building and the GECOM chairperson was in a locked room and could not be reached, as a result of his concern over her safety and security and the fate of the elections, he kicked open the locked door of the room to find her. He is a young politician who is not aligned to any of the three major parties in Guyana and he speaks with honesty and objectivity based on his involvement in the political process at the national and the municipal levels. The points raised by him in the above quote from his letter are informative and should not be easily dismissed.
Stabroek News editorial “The Mayor and the vendors” Stabroek News of December 16, 2022 states “In a press release the GPHC said that the relevant authorities had been written to on the matter (requesting removal of vendors from New Market Street) in 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2022. It did not indicate which authorities had been contacted, although it might be remarked that in the years 2016 and 2019 as well as possibly 2015, the hospital perhaps thought that it would not have made much difference since the local authority and the government were under the control of the same party”.
Dr Kanhai’s letter states “I recall that a portion of time when the APNU held power, that very strip of New Market St. was cleared of vendors and “Taxi Only” signs were erected up to a point. However, during September of the COVID pandemic I noticed a few stalls popping up back along the stretch of roadway and then caravans and other stalls opened up, putting the taxi zone out and leaving a narrow space for motor vehicles to pass” This informs us that APNU which, at the time, controlled both the Central Government and the City Government did remove vendors from the street prior to the beginning of the COVID pandemic. The stand now taken by the leader of APNU and the Mayor of the City is hypocritical to say the least.
Mayor Narine’s statement about President Ali being a Muslim and he being a Hindu cannot be easily dismissed when one looks at the history of attempts to siphon off votes from the PPP based on religious grounds. In the 1950s leaders of the Christian churches warned their members to stay away from the communist PPP who were godless. Then, for the critical 1964 general elections, as was revealed a few years ago, the Guyana United Muslim Party came on the scene with funding from the British Colonial Office in the hope of splitting away the votes of Indo-Guyanese Muslims from the PPP. As well, PNC stalwart Mr Hamilton Green, supported by prominent anti-PPP muslim leaders, converted to Islam, assuming the name Mohamed Bilal. And in 1969, a coup was engineered in the premier Hindu organization, the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS), to deny Pandit Reepu Daman Persaud the Presidency.
In a Kaieteur News article of April 14, 2013 “A Hindu Leader” Mr Ravi Dev writes “I also saw up close the rigging of the 1969 elections in the SDMS. Scheduled to be held in Essequibo, by the time Pandit Reep, Hari Persaud and others reached the stelling, they were told the elections were already over. Sase Narine, who I was told had been passed over by Dr Jagan to be a PPP candidate in favour of Pandit Reep, had taken over the SDMS and pledged fealty to the PNC”. The fact that the Government ferry from Georgetown to Essequibo with Pandit Reep on board was delayed in port Georgetown for several hours past the scheduled departure time for no apparent reason speaks volumes. In 1971 Mr Sase Narine was appointed Speaker of Parliament and held that position until 1992, i.e., throughout the many years of rigged national elections in Guyana. As for the SDMS, that was the beginning of its demise as the major Hindu organization in Guyana.
Dr Kanhai’s statement “Mayor Narine…recent actions support the theory that this was with the pure intention of gaining political points” is interesting. While, it may be just a coincidence, one cannot fail to note that Ms Geeta Chandon-Edmond who was on leave from the position of General Secretary of the PNC has just resigned from that post. At the next general elections due in two years time, Ms Chandon-Edmond, an Indo-Guyanese and a high profile female Attorney and former Magistrate, would have been a suitable Prime Ministerial candidate for the PNC/APNU, in light of the expected departure of the AFC from the APNU-AFC coalition. Is Mayor Narine, a Hindu Pandit, now rehearsing for that number two spot on the next PNC/APNU ticket?