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Senators close ranks around Persad-Bissessar

Opposition senators yesterday joined the majority of United National Congress (UNC) MPs in supporting political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar against Mayaro MP Rushton Paray.

Persad-Bissessar is being challenged by Paray on several issues, including National Executive elections. However, most UNC MPs have spoken out in support of Persad-Bissessar, as opposed to Paray’s call for Natex polls to be held by June.

Fyzabad MP Lackram Bodoe said yesterday: “There has been no indication from the Natex regarding any postponement of internal elections. Having served as a deputy leader in the previous Natex, I can confirm the extent to which Mrs Persad-Bissessar’s leadership has improved and transformed the UNC.”

The only UNC MPs with opposing views thus far are Paray, Naparima MP Rodney Charles and Cumuto Manzanilla MP Rai Ragbir.

Paray indicated last week that he is “absolutely” interested in UNC leadership and launched his bid by challenging Persad-Bissessar on the Natex issue.

Up to yesterday, Tabaquite MP Anita Haynes-Alleyne and Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally had not stated their positions on the issue.

Haynes-Alleyne hasn’t responded to numerous questions and Rambally, who has hinted that he won’t seek nomination to contest Chaguanas West again, has recently been at variance with the party’s leadership on issues about the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS).

Yesterday, Opposition Senator Jearlean John, said in support of Persad-Bissessar: “At this time, when we have a Government whose strong dictatorial tendencies are always on display, in many instances it’s UNC which consistently stands in the gap for citizens.

“It’s therefore difficult to fathom how someone who professes a desire to lead the UNC does not walk or work with the rank and file, but instead believes they can parachute their way into the leadership. In the UNC, you cannot take the high road to high UNC office. That idea is dead on arrival… you have to work hard. It’s the only path to progress and success.”

She added, “It’s ill-advised for persons with extremely self-serving motives to believe they can bully the UNC and its supporters into bowing to the self-seeking demands of persons bent on ill will and mal intent. In the same way the UNC is open, and welcoming, we’re intolerant of those who misread, misrepresent and distort our proud culture of loyalty even whilst in Opposition.”

Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial pledged her continued support for the political leader in a Facebook post.

“It’s normal for individuals to have differing views on the best way forward for the party. However, the party is bigger than the individual. As a democracy, we must abide by the choice of the majority unless a new choice is made when the opportunity to do so arises, as per the party’s constitution, she wrote.

“There has been no indication thus far that this opportunity will not arise at the appropriate time. Until then, we should all be at our best by giving our best to the country, party and each other.

“Ambition is commendable, as is respecting those chosen to serve alongside us and elected to lead us, whilst maintaining cordial and open dialogue.”

Lutchmedial added, “We may each be common, with our individual strengths and weaknesses but it’s our ability to work together that will make UNC the extraordinary force that will save T&T.”

Senator Anil Roberts said the PNM is so entrenched and the “playing field so unfair,” that the fight isn’t easy, regardless of “how good UNC’s policies are, how intelligent its members and how fantastic its candidates”.

He warned that any “little splintering of the iceberg needs to be addressed”.

“Let’s all stay focused, one leader, one party,” he urged.

Senator David Nakhid dismissed Paray’s bid and said, “We have no time to waste on the distractions of any self-serving individual clearly ignorant of the political realities our beleaguered nation faces.”

Also expressing support for Persad-Bissessar was Senator Damian Lyder, who said: “The UNC is at the forefront of a political awakening in T&T that’s barrelling towards toppling the PNM government in elections. Therefore, it’s unfortunate some turn down the opportunity to be part of this turning point in favour of wasting their energies antagonising the duly elected political leader and her team.” (GA)

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