new fracture for unity
Guardian reported, last Friday, there was a move afoot between
Inshan Ishmael, of the COP, and Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, of
the UNC, to create a new unified political force to fight
Based on the content of the report, one got the impression
Basdeo Panday was not part of this new move, and there was
the suggestion this was being done to sideline Panday, as
well as Winston Dookeran, the COP leader.
Based on public appearances, there is clear evidence Ishmael
and Maharaj have joined forces in a march that was organised
by Maharaj in Charlieville last weekend.
The next test will be to see who attends the rally being organised
by Ishmael on June 8.
So far, it appears as though both Ishmael and Maharaj will
join hands on that platform.
According to the report, Ishmael said, inter alia:
are certain people in COP and the UNC who wouldnt want
the parties coming together, so something has to give. Maybe
this is the beginning.
think with Mr Maharajs leadership, it stands a better
chance of happening, because many people in COP see Panday
as a deterrent to an amalgamation of unity.
and others have said before that there would have been an
amalgam if not for Panday.
theres support for Maharaj, he would be the one to ignite
unity, because hes respected by many. (Trinidad
Guardian, May 30, 2008, P 5).
There is no doubt what is going on here. Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj
is being promoted as the leader of an initiative for the merger
of the COP and the UNC.
It is also obvious the basis of this new political entity
is the removal of Basdeo Panday from leadership of the UNC-A.
With Panday under a suspension from the House of Representatives
until the end of this parliamentary session (which ends on
December 16, if Parliament is not prorogued sooner), it means
Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, as the Opposition Chief Whip, has
been the one to lead the Opposition forces in the House of
Representatives while Panday remains missing in action.
Essentially, if a rift occurs within the UNC-A about any moves
that may be made by Maharaj to assume leadership of a new
entity that will not include Panday, it would be difficult
for any action to be taken against Maharaj under the constitutional
provisions for crossing-the-floor as Panday (as leader of
the party on whose ticket Maharaj contested the general election)
is suspended from the service of the House for the rest of
the year (at most).
If these initiatives by Inshan Ishmael are really going to
take place with Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, then the UNC-A will
have to have an internal debate about whether to accept this
move or not.
The Panday loyalists in the party are not going to accept
this, and Maharaj will have to declare his hand, unless Panday
goes along with the plan.
If Panday is not on board with this, he and Maharaj will have
yet another showdown that would recall much of what was said
back in 2001, when they fell out with each other.
On the COP side of the coin, there also appears to be to some
measure of willingness to engage the process.
Deputy Political Leader of the COP, Prakash Ramadhar, gave
a cautious response in the same Guardian report last Friday
has always been open to persons interested in T&Ts
development and willing to subscribe to principles of integrity,
morality, decency and courteous behaviour.
shouldnt be about which party is joining which
a false premise promoted by petty politicians.
Like Prime Minister Manning, Ramadhar is also concerned about
people having courteous behaviour. However, he seeks to take
the unity debate beyond the issue of parties coming together.
In this context, he appears to be saying the issue of unity
is not about COP and UNC-A coming together for the sake of
forming a single political machine.
In essence, the very premise of the COP and UNC-A unity argument
has been a faulty one, precisely because it seeks to promote
division by excluding the PNM.
Designed to heal
How can any political movement that seeks social unity make
a call on the basis of the COP and the UNC-A uniting to remove
the PNM from power and still be serious about unity?
Such a message contains its own formula for a fracture, because
it is designed to exclude PNM supporters.
Such a call for unity contains its own desire for hegemonic
domination over the PNM, so that it is bound to fail, because
it is a false unity that no PNM supporter would want to share
by virtue of automatic exclusion.
The COPUNC clarion call for unity is really an electoral
convenience that is designed to prepare a unified face to
defeat the PNM in the local government elections.
It is not about uniting the people of the country because
of any belief that the people are divided.
The only division that a COPUNC call for unity is designed
to heal is the one that manifested itself in the voting behaviour
of their supporters in the last general election.
If the proponents of a COP-UNC unity are serious about a philosophy
of unity, they would not go around talking about the creation
of a political movement to remove the PNM from power.
All that that does is to prove that their mindset is about
power, not about unity.
They want to use the same philosophy of a majoritarian democracy,
where greater numbers of the popular will can provide power,
as opposed to consociational and accommodative political behaviour
that takes hegemony off the table and engages people in a
dialogue about social unity, with respect for diversity.