BREWING ANTI-PPP CHALLENGES IN 1961
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The PPP victory was greeted with great jubilation in many parts of the country. In the PPP strongholds throughout Berbice and the East Coast Demerara huge crowds lined the main highway to greet the gigantic motorcade that accompanied Dr. Jagan as he made his way from his own constituency on the Corentyne coast (in Berbice) to Georgetown. The motorcade brought some animosity among PNC supporters, mainly in villages with large African populations, since many of vehicles dragged brooms, the symbol of the defeated PNC.
Immediately after the results of the elections were announced, the Governor, Sir Ralph Grey, appointed Dr. Jagan as Premier and asked him to form a Government. Dr. Jagan shortly after named a Council of Ministers (which replaced the Executive Council under the previous Constitution). The Ministers were Dr. Jagan himself as Minister of Development and Planning, Brindley Benn (responsible for Natural Resources), Ram Karran (Works and Hydraulics), Balram Singh Rai (Home Affairs), Cedric Nunes (Education) Jocelyn Hubbard (Trade and Industry), Ranji Chandisingh (Labour, Health and Housing), Dr. Charles Jacob, Jnr. (Finance), Earle Gladstone Wilson (Communications) and Dr. Fenton Ramsahoye (Attorney General).
Under the new 1961 Constitution, Guyana achieved internal self government, and the new PPP Government began to make plans for the final achievement of the status of independence. But these plans were seriously hampered from the beginning when the PNC, despite its support for independence in the run-up to the August elections, began to raise objections to this attainment under the PPP Government. It was clear that Burnham, ever so confident that the PNC would win the elections, was tremendously dismayed when the PPP won re-election. He was a sore loser and, in a very unprincipled manner, backtracked on all his promises to support immediate independence for Guyana. The PNC also launched some strong anti-PPP activities not too long after the election results were announced. It presented six election petitions against PPP winners, and subsequently succeeded in one in which the PPP winner in the Houston constituency was unseated.
The PNC also claimed all three opposition seats in the nominated Senate, and objected when the Governor gave one to the United Force. Based on the constitution, three of the eight Senate seats were to be allocated to the opposition, but Burnham refused to accept the two given to his party. At a public meeting in Georgetown, he used crude and vulgar language to attack the Governor, and his party passed a resolution demanding the Governor's recall by the British Government. On the 6 October 1961, the day of the formal opening of the House of Assembly, the PNC legislators, led by Burnham, squatted in front of the gates of the Public Buildings to block the Governor from entering. The police had to lift them bodily to remove them from the entrance before the Governor could enter.
The PPP victory also brought a feeling of racial distrust in some African communities. Two of their most prominent leaders, Sydney King and H. H. Nicholson, formed the Society for Racial Equality (SRE) which claimed it was aimed at protecting the African people. (Earlier, King had formed a pro-African organisation which he named the African Society for Cultural Relations with Independent Africa (ASCRIA). Despite its name, the SRE was not interested in an integrated society based on racial equality. It vehemently opposed independence under the PPP claiming that Guyana would become a "country with Africans as slaves to East Indians." In propagating this viewpoint, the SRE sent petitions to the governments of the United States, Great Britain, the USSR, India, Ghana and Nigeria, urging them to form an international commission to partition Guyana into three separate but equal zones. These zones would be an African Zone, an East Indian Zone, and a Free Zone which would have those who wanted to live with other races. The SRE was not taken seriously by these governments nor by most Guyanese; nevertheless, the leaders of the organisation continued to advocate their "partition" views throughout the term of the PPP government.