Wednesday 4th May, 2008


UNC MPs back out of Inshan rally

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By Gail Alexander

UNC MPs Jack Warner, Vasant Bharath and Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj will not be at Sunday’s joint UNC/COP platform being held by COP’s Inshan Ishmael, it was confirmed yesterday.

Ishmael had planned the event at the Aranguez Savannah as a joint platform on national issues.

He invited the three front-line UNC MPs to join the platform, along with COP deputy leader Prakash Ramadhar, former COP candidate Anand Ramlogan, COP’s Anil Roberts, anti-crime activist Stephen Cadiz and environmentalist Peter Vine.

Ishmael also said in last Friday’s exclusive Guardian story on the matter that he hoped a recent march and Felicity public meeting with UNC MP Maharaj would be the start of bigger things to come, such as a possible unification of the UNC and COP.

He was optimistic of this under Maharaj’s leadership, since he said Maharaj was very respected and UNC leader Basdeo Panday was seen by many in COP as a deterrent to unity.

Ishmael said members of both parties needed to be the ones who decided the direction of their parties, rather than the leaders. He later said there were many on both sides who wanted unity.

Neither Panday nor COP leader Winston Dookeran were to be at the rally.

Ramesh going away

By yesterday, the three UNC MPs told Ishmael they would not attend the rally.

Last week, Warner had initially projected that he would be there.

But yesterday, Warner’s office advised that he would not be going to the rally.

Bharath, confirming his non-attendance, said: “This rally has taken a political perspective which was not the original intention and in addition to that, recent press reports that this appeared to be intended to remove the UNC leader meant it was not acceptable to me.

“I therefore had little choice except to stay out.”

Maharaj left T&T for the US yesterday, until Friday, his driver said.

In court yesterday, Maharaj said he would be back in T&T on the weekend briefly and then would have to leave again on Monday—this time to London, until June 17. (See page 10)

Ishmael is expected to make a statement on the matter this afternoon, according to COP officials.

Bas hits the ‘haters’

At last Wednesday’s UNC national executive meeting, UNC leader Panday had spoken about Ishmael’s recent initiatives with UNC MPs. He warned against allowing people to take over the UNC base. Panday alluded to Winston Dookeran and others.

Panday subsequently told the Guardian that “simply going down the same road” is not going to bring about the kind of political unity needed to remove the PNM.

Bas: They want me gone

Yesterday, a UNC’s chat forum on Yahoo featured comments by a number of members on Ishmael’s effort.

One writer asked why Panday’s leadership was hated so much.

Panday replied on the Web site—without specifically naming Ishmael or anyone else—stating the following:

“They really don’t hate me; they envy me. What looks like hate is really their frustration that overwhelms them because I won’t give them what I have—which they want badly—and that is the support of the people, without which they cannot get political power.

“They are angry with me because they believe I must hand over to them the power which comes from the love and trust of the people. That is what they are always talking about—anointing somebody (like Dookeran, I suppose) and riding off into the sunset.

“They believe that by doing so they will get the people’s support, on which they can ride into political power. If I should ‘hand over’ to them tomorrow, I would be the best thing since sliced bread to them.

“But I have told them over and over that the support and trust of the people which I enjoy have come from years of struggling in the trenches with them, eating when they eat and crying when they cried.

“It is not something like a cow you can hand over to someone. So when I refuse to hand over our power-base to them (because I can’t of course), they wish for my death or my incarceration or both. They believe (wrongly of course) that if I am no longer on the scene, the people will follow them.

“How politically naive they are. Don’t be angry with them. Feel sorry instead.”

Efforts to contact Panday proved futile yesterday.


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