As the election campaign gets set for full take off, former President Bharrat Jagdeo is expected to make many more appearances on the campaign stage for the governing People’s Progressive Party although he has said he does not wish to seek any elected office.
But the former President is not sure whether his presence will serve as an asset or a liability for the PPP.
“I don’t know but the base wants me here and so I am here”, Jagdeo said.
He was at the time speaking at a Freedom House press conference on Tuesday afternoon, where he sought to explain the reasons behind his speech at Babu John on Sunday.
The APNU-AFC coalition has criticized the PPP over the speech which the coalition believes was meant to incite racial tension in the country in the lead up to the May 11 elections.
Jagdeo said his speech was meant to do the opposite but he felt it was important to bring up the issue of race because it is an issue that he believes the opposition will use to campaign at the upcoming elections.
“I made it clear if you read my statement that we in the Peoples Progressive Party, we in this family have grown up not to pay attention to people’s race, religion or gender. That was forefront in my speech and then I said we must fight racism”. The former President said he has no apology for his statements at Babu John. “I am proud of what I did”, he noted.
Mr. Jagdeo told the press briefing that he believes the opposition will bring up the issue of race because it is “the only tool they know to use”. He repeated statements that during the last elections, Opposition activists went around to houses in South Georgetown “beating drums” and telling people of one race to vote out the people of another race.
He defended his use of the term “c**lie” to demonstrate that point at the Babu John but declared that “I am not a c**lie” and the use of such words should have no place on the campaign trail. He also admitted that he could have been more elegant in language when he told the President at the Babu John event that he should have “kicked in some asses” when the opposition objected and blocked some of the government’s plans.
Jagdeo said he was talking symbolically and not literally.
Following the 2011 elections which saw the PPP losing its majority in the National Assembly, many party supporters and followers believed that Jagdeo was responsible for that loss because of what they considered his abusive and confrontational language and attitude on the campaign trail. Mr. Jagdeo is convinced that he has changed and said he is even “treating the media better”.
Filed: 10th March, 2015