Jagdeo prefers ‘engine room’ work

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Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo says his role is focused in the “engine room” of government to ensure that plans of the PPP government are ready to be implemented, saying the past year has been spent prepping projects for rollout in the coming years.

Jagdeo has specific oversight responsibilities for Finance, Natural Resources and the Environment.

“I think any leader of a political party needs to understand the role that they have to play in different periods of history,” said Jagdeo, who now leads the PPP, the largest political party in Guyana.

“You have to work in the engine room of government all day, fixing the parts, seeing that it goes forward.

“And that’s unglamourous, hard work, that is very boring and lonely sometimes.”

Jagdeo, who served as President from 1999 to 2011, has hosted a few press conferences and given speeches at a few events since he was sworn in by President Ali on August 2, 2020.

His return to active politics, after spending months in Africa and Southeast Asia working on a “very, very lucrative career” on climate change issues, came after the PPP lost the seat of government in 2015 after 23 years.

Rather than being “pathetic” and seek sympathy, Jagdeo said he preferred to rally the troops and win back government, toppling the APNU+AFC Coalition in just three and a half years through a No Confidence motion in the National Assembly.

“…I need to play a more supportive role at this time to ensure that the government delivers on its promises to the people and that it operates efficiently, transparently,” he added.

With the death of the Jagan – Dr Cheddi Jagan in 1997 and Janet Jagan in 2009 -the PPP was left without the two leaders who had been at the forefront in the decades since it was formed.

With the PPP’s defeat in 2015, Jagdeo retuned to active politics, taking the mantle as opposition leader. He was then voted by his party’s Central Committee in 2017 to become General Secretary to lead its re-election campaign and has now become the most imposing figure in his party since the Jagans.

His election to the position of General Secretary was not without its challenge. There were those who believed he was not suited to the position, but today, he hopes he has managed to change the views of those who did not want him as leader of the party.

He has described himself as “abrupt” with an impatient attitude for getting things done that rubs people the wrong way.

“I thought I needed to play a more prominent role as leader of the opposition and as General Secretary of PPP.

“I did that and that was a more public role to mobilise support, to galvanise the party, to speak about the vision of the PPP when it gets back into office, to help to prepare the manifesto – the plan of the government,” Jagdeo stated.

Now, he said he is comfortable with the “backroom” work to ensure that the PPP delivers on its promises.

So, yes, he said, he is back in politics for the long haul.

As General Secretary of the PPP, he has set himself the task of recruiting new young leaders at Freedom House, the party’s headquarters, “because we are a bit depleted there.”

“So, we have to train, incubate, expand, the next wave of a leadership.”

Jagdeo said he wants to build the party to include others, so that the Party “looks like Guyana.” In particular, he wants more Afro Guyanese into the party.

He said too he has taken on the task of helping the President to make sure the current crop of Ministers remains accountable to the people and remain on the ground.

“We’ve seen some cases already, the President has spoken to the Cabinet, that they don’t become anyway arrogant or anything akin to what we witnessed in the last five years, that they remain focused on their programmes and on people and their welfare.”

The full extended interview with Mr Jagdeo airs at 19:00 hrs (7 p.m.) on Enetworks Chanel 1, SKAR TV, Tarzee TV in Bartica, and would be streamed on the News Room’s Facebook page.

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