Dec 23, 2018
A Member of Parliament backbencher, (MP), Charrandass Persaud, was largely quiet in the national front over the past few months.
On Friday evening, after 20:00 hours, that all changed. Within hours, on the coastlands, and in the diaspora, his name was on the lips of hundreds of thousands.
Persaud during what, for the Coalition Government, should have been a routine vote, kicked over the apple cart and caused the dam to break, by voting with the Opposition on a critical no-confidence motion.
To the shouts and disbelief of his colleagues MPs, he remained defiant, and the motion was carried 33-32 in favour of the Opposition.
His one vote has caused the Coalition Government, in just the fourth year of its five-year reign, to fall.
That one vote will now see early elections within three months.
It has never happened before in Guyana.
With a one-seat minority, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) after being booted from office in 2015, during an early election due to a prorogued Parliament, stand a real chance of regaining power after a good showing at the recent Local Government Elections.
Charrandass Persaud, surrounded by MPs and others of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), which forms Opposition, shortly after the vote on Friday night, insisted that he voted with his conscience, for the first time in three and a half years as an MP. The rest of the time he voted along party lines.
He was given protection to head out of the Parliament Building and police were supposed to give him more security until he left Guyana for Canada yesterday.
Speaking with reporters, Charrandass did not hold back.
He appeared to have planned the vote. He had prepared a letter, which he gave to his secretary of his law office in Berbice, detailing his reasons for his vote.
The letter was to have been released in case he did not make it from the Parliament chambers.
He had also made plans to fly out yesterday.
He wrote to his son, urging him to be happy and to be a good father.
With regards to his decision, Persaud complained that the Government MP, Minister of Health, Volda Lawrence, was sitting in the cafeteria in the Parliament Buildings when she allegedly threatened to kill and to throw anyone who crossed the floor, over the rail.
Explaining to the media in Parliament why he voted the way he did, he said, “This is the one time I have a say.
I said in accordance with my conscience, my friends who are AFC people and who are APNU people I have nothing against you, but the AFC team has disappointed me terribly.
“I did not work so hard to put them in power so that they can run around and live the good life and mess with the people.”
He said that it was yes to everything with AFC parliamentarians having little say with their coalition partner.
According to Persaud, this was not what he signed up for.
Charrandass claimed that the lives of sugar workers in his village in Berbice were destroyed “and I can’t live with that. So if I die now because people may not be happy with what I’ve done, I will die a happy person. I’ll have a clear conscience.”
He was critical of Volda Lawrence’s much publicized statements that she would only employ PNC (People’s National Congress Reform) people.
That issue so incensed Charrandass that he complained to his party leader, Vice President Raphael Trotman.
Charrandass said that instead of acting, Trotman defended Minister Lawrence.
While Lawrence, who is the Chairperson of the PNCR apologized, it appeared that Trotman was “pissed” on and the rest of the AFC were forced to endure it, an incensed Charrandass complained.
He said that he was upset by the vote on the Prime Minister’s Pension Bill. The Bill was to give Prime Minister Hamilton Green a proper pension.
Charrandass said that during the discussions and subsequent vote on that issue, his party did not have any say; they were reduced to rubber stamps.
He said this was so on many other occasions.
According to the MP, just before the vote, he wrote to his son.
“I didn’t tell him anything in detail, I just said ‘be happy and be a good father.”
The MP was yesterday expelled by the AFC, his party. He is now planning to spend time with his grand-kids.
“I am not concerned right now who thinks I am a traitor as they’ve called me. They’ve threatened me that “you’re a traitor”, “you’re a sellout”, “you should die”.
I heard that. I will die. It’s not my ambition to live forever. I don’t know if anyone of you or anyone of them has the dream to live forever. It’s not mine. When it comes, I will go. I believe in karma…”
Questioned about whether he gave an assurance during a pre-debate briefing with senior APNU and AFC officials that he will not give a conscience vote, Persaud insisted that he said nothing.
In fact, the MP said that he made the decision the night before.
“I did not even sleep well last night because I knew it was going to be a tough thing…I don’t know what is going to happen outside there, whatever happens, happens.”
He was referring to the crowd outside the Parliament who had seen and heard everything that went on inside.
Asked whether he was concerned about being expelled, the lawyer said he is prepared to resign and save the party the trouble.
“You know that I will not be coming back to Parliament as a member of the AFC.”
He said that the resignation will be mailed to the Speaker of the House before the holiday is over.
“I am not keen on being a parliamentarian; I am a lawyer and those who know me will know that I am a successful lawyer. I don’t sell my soul.
I sold my conscience for three and a half years to the detriment of my own job that has now come to an end.”
He said that he did not do it to reduce the power of the Government but to clear my conscience.
The MP also disclosed that his friend, the Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, offered him security.
With regards to his political career, MP Persaud was convinced that it is over.
“No, this is the end of my political career, if it was a career, I did not plan on getting into politics but I did it because at that time, I couldn’t stand what I saw the PPP were doing.
“A lot of them were getting rich, real rich and we’re not doing things differently.”
The lawyer is not thinking of joining the PPP.
“I’m ruling out joining any political party or being a candidate…”
He denied that he was paid to vote.
He said that a letter was given to his secretary to be released if he did not make it out of Parliament Buildings.
“So what I’m saying here is what I believe in my heart. And for all intent and purposes, I don’t know that these people would have changed; that they would have done anything to benefit the people, having put so many sugar workers out of their livelihood and having declared that only PNC people will get work…”
Asked whether his statements were a contradiction to his support to the recently passed 2019 budget, MP Persaud made it clear that he did so according to his party line.
Charrandass Persaud was probably the most Googled name in Guyana yesterday.