The last related issue I want to address is the controversy surrounding the PPP’s presidential candidate. Is he strong enough? Is he a liability to the PPP? Even without the problems surrounding his academic qualifications and the Pradoville issue, Ali is an unattractive candidate. He just does not fit the profile of the maximum leader.
So, he is bothersome for the PPP. That is why Jagdeo is giving him as much cover. But I suspect that there are forces outside of the PPP who have insisted on his candidacy in exchange for campaign donations. He is not really the PPP’s first choice; his candidacy is imposed on the PPP from outside. It’s hard to see how a Nandlall or Frank Anthony, who are superior candidates, would be enthusiastic about him on the campaign trail
I think despite his problems, Irfaan Ali is not totally seen as damaged goods; certainly not to the PPP’s base. However, his candidacy weakens the PPP’s ability to reach across the divide, and he introduces some degree of uncertainty among the party’s soft voters. But by the time we get to the election, the party’s top and second level leadership would rally around him, and this would put pressure among the skeptics among the base to do likewise. We live in an era in which political morality is very low on the requirements for top leadership.
The Coalition should target him for special criticisms, but they would have to find a way to tailor that message to potential PPP voters. That message cannot be framed in ridicule—that is for the Coalition’s base. Rather, it would have to appeal to the conscience of the voters. Ridicule would be seen in ethnic terms, and that would have the opposite effect. His candidacy may yet prove to be the perfect gift to the Coalition