The former Women's Organiser of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Ms Frances Asiam, yesterday likened the party she quit last week to a cult.
She said the only way to remain in the party was to worship former President J. J. Rawlings, who, she said, had assumed the status of the cult leader against whom no one could express divergent views.
But the former President's Special Aide, Mr Victor Smith, rejected that assertion and rather described the former organiser as a casualty of the attempt by party loyalists to cleanse their ranks of moles who had been working against the party's forward march.
He said contrary to Ms Asiam's notion, the “rank and file of the NDC party regards Flt Lt Rawlings as an inspirational authority of the party.”
Ms Asiam was alleged to have been physically attacked at the last delegates' conference in Koforidua, based on which she announced her resignation from the party.
She claimed that anyone who dared to share a different opinion from that of the former President and stayed in the party risked losing his or her life.
In yesterday's interview, Ms Asiam who stated that her decision to quit the party was irrevocable, said most independent-minded persons who were with both the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) and the NDC had to quit because their views were not accommodated by the former President.
Elaborating further on her decision, Ms Assiam said she believed that in political party organisations there must be dissent and cross fertilisation of ideas but this was lacking in a great party like the NDC.
Ms Asiam cited Messrs P.V. Obeng and Gossie Tandoh, who later formed the National Reform Party (NRP), Larry Adjetey, Sam Garbah, Dr Kwesi Botchwey, among others as some of the people whose different views saw them out.
She described the former President as a “dictator and a tyrant” who saw anyone with different opinion to what he held as a traitor who should be stopped or kicked out of the party and said the posture of the cult leader had made the party to stifle members with fair imaginative, objective and creative ideas.
She said the former President who believed that he was sacrosanct and the only person with the best of opinions which should be binding on all, vehemently opposed the process where free and frank discussions culminated in conclusion based on critical and empirical analysis.
According to Ms Assiam, it all started when she assumed the position of the Women's Organiser of the party and started reorganising the women's wing of the party to become strong, visible, and more viable than the 31st December Women's Movement which was hitherto perceived as the women's wing of the NDC.
She added that she became assertive, independent, stronger and contributed to the rich discussions at the national executive meetings of the party, qualities which did not go down well with some of the people she termed 'Rawlings elements' within the party.
"I was also strong and objective in the media and my being a woman irritated their guts because I was becoming powerful and fair-minded", Ms Assiam alleged, and said subtle manoeuvres were begun by some newspapers to malign and attack her calling her all sorts of names and levelling all sorts of unfounded accusations against her.
On why she opposed Dr Obed Yao Asamoah's choice of Dr Botchwey as the presidential candidate, she explained that she was one of those who supported Dr Asamoah in 2001 as the party chairman but campaigned for Prof J. E. A. Mills.
Ms Asiam explained that she supported Prof. Mills because he had been with the party in the trenches, while Dr Botchwey had been out of action in the party for some time, making it difficult to assess Dr Botchwey's chances and support him.
She explained that the attacks reached their peak when the former President realised the humiliating defeat of his candidate at the elections of youth executive for the party in Bolgatanga and that made them to strategise to physically attack those with dissenting views.
She said prior to the Koforidua congress, where she was attacked, all the executive members of the party were assured by the security committee of the party that there would be adequate security, therefore there was no need for anyone to bring his or her personal security.
Ms Asiam said at the congress, when the former President said there was the need for prayers to be said for the souls of some members of the party, notably Dr Asamoah, Dr Botcwhey and herself, she became alarmed because she wondered how he could pray for the souls of people who were living and whether that meant " wanted me dead".
She said as someone who believed in free speech because of the current democratic dispensation, she decided to share her views on what the former President had said, but this did not go down well with his followers. who, together with him had carefully planned and orchestrated to kill her.
Ms Asiam who said but for the intervention of some good Samaritans who had had hint of the plan and the security agencies who escorted her, her assailants, who did not understand the semantics of English, would have lynched her.
Reacting to those charges, Mr Victor Smith described Ms Assiam's assertions as unfortunate because the party could not be a cult.
He said Flt Lt Rawlings, who is also the founder of the party, upheld certain principles and values that had propelled the party to the present state and protected it from attempts to denigrate it.
Mr Smith said the results of the recent NDC congress at Koforidua had exposed “those who came into the party under the guise of deepening democracy in the party.”
“Those who came into the party under the guise of deepening democracy have been exposed by the results of the recent NDC congress and sought to unite the party for 2008,” he said.
He said the party was now more united and committed to wrest power from the “NPP government come 2008.”