Critics of the UNC base are overstepping their boundaries. This was displayed when an individual labeled the UNC membership as ‘Hindu fundamentalists and racists.’ This was definitely a sinister and grave attack on the integrity of the supporters of the party. More disturbing, the charge was coming from the lips of someone who had served in the National Executive of the UNC and had run for a position in the Lotus Slate but was defeated.
I want the critics of the UNC to examine closely the merit of their argument. I want to say that Hindus do not make gods of their politicians to warrant their description as fundamentalists. Indians honor their leaders so long as they were relevant. Had the UNC-base been fanatics and racists they would not have rejected leaders like Bhadase Sagan Maraj and Basdeo Panday, both of whom had served the community and the nations with distinction and are still honored for their contributions. Nevertheless, when it was time to move forward, the DLP/UNC base rejected them.
This action of the UNC base is unlike the PNM’s that have kept Dr. Eric Williams like a millstone around their necks. By 1966 Dr. Eric Williams’ government had failed miserably. By 1969 there were open revolts against the PNM government when youths took to the hills and began an open rebellion to overthrow the State. After this was crushed by the police led by Commissioner Randolph Boroughs, there was the 1970 Black Power Uprising. It was now clear that the PNM had failed to deliver to the people, and yet that millstone was kept around the people’s necks. For 30 years that failed PNM was kept in power until it was replaced by the NAR in 1986. Had Dr. Eric Williams not died, it is possible that the NAR would not have seen power!
But the cult status of the PNM was not dead but very much alive during the reign of the NAR. Intolerant of another party in power but the PNM, the Muslimeens led a violent uprising, storming Parliament, bombing police headquarters, and occupying TTT, the state television house, at Maraval Road, Port of Spain. In the melee many innocent citizens lost their lives, buildings went up in flames. The entire nation was in panic! Where were the racist Indians and the Hindu fundamentalists in these horrendous and unpatriotic acts?
Indians are family-oriented and their members are cared for by the tremendous sacrifices by all members of the family. Indians are known globally for their industry and hard work. It was their toil, sacrifice and innovation that diversified production in this country. Rice, dairy, and vegetable farming were pioneered by Indians and cane farming expanded by leaps and bounds. Indians saved their earning and sent their children abroad to graduate as professionals in two dominant professions-medicine and law.
Indians never took up arms against the State. They were not among those guerrillas that took to the hills to fight the police. In the 1970 Black Power marches, the Indians kept to themselves and refused to be sucked into a vortex of a social uprising that they could not control. Indians continue to be law-abiding and in their communities, the crime rate remains low.
Indians continue to hold on dearly to their traditions and customs despite the barrage of attacks by the missionaries who are aided and abetted by the State. Confident of their heritage, Indians participate in all social and cultural activities but proud of their religious and social identity. Indians remain proud of their songs, music and dance, their pujas and religious festivals and their leaders who have provided guidance for a brighter future.
The hypocrisy of Afro Trini can be rather resounding. It is common today to hear Africans complaining about President Trump not conceding defeat. They are saying that ‘when you lose you must move on.’ However, that was not said when President Granger refused to vacate office in Guyana after his defeat by the PPP/C. During this struggle to ensure that democracy did not fail in Guyana, the Creole media in Trinidad and Tobago was silent. With the exception of Mia Motley, Chair of CARICOM, the atmosphere in the Caribbean was one of silence in the midst of wrong.
The 28 years of misrule by the dictator Forbes Burnham must be discussed unreservedly if Guyana has to move forward. Students of history must be made aware of the events that led to the infamous Wismar Massacre and the continued refusal to have a Commission of Inquiry into this sinister event. Also, the murders of Indian politicians by Desi Bouterse of Suriname must be highlighted unabashedly by CARICOM and not left to the International Criminal Court of Justice.
The worsening social and economic situation in Guyana and Suriname has resulted in the election of Indian-led governments to lead these nations into some kind of material and social comfort. The racist policies of leaders of the past have to be corrected and a meritocracy must be encouraged for the selection of resource personnel for the tasks ahead.
This is exactly what happened when the UNC held its internal election on December 06 with the Kamla Persad-Bissessar-led team emerging victorious. Unless we learn to listen to the wishes of the people irrespective of how right we may feel, we will be heading down a precipice of no return. I am happy that Vasant Bharath has accepted his defeat with grace and dignity because his existence is not circumscribed by the vagaries of elections’ results. But for the few that owe their lives and existence to an elections’ results, I empathize with you. I know how SHITTY it feels!