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Suruj backs Kamla in leadership polls

Monday, October 23, 2017

Tabaquite MP Dr Suruj Rambachan said yesterday he is throwing his support behind Kamla Persad-Bissessar to be re-elected as political leader of the United National Congress.

He said, “between 2015 and now she has done a credible job in keeping the party together, and leading a strong fight back against the PNM, which has caused the Government to be brought to its feet.”

According to Rambachan: “We have not seen a Government deteriorate as fast as the PNM over the governance promised and the governance delivered.”

Rambachan believes that in going forward Persad-Bissessar needs to have a “more vibrant composition of the National Executive (NATEX) in preparation for an election that could be called at any point in time given what we are seeing in the country.”

“I am supporting her but will have reservations about the quality of people on the NATEX, we need a mix of professional people and political activists,” he said.

In addition, Rambachan said he would like Persad-Bissessar to set up a number of strong policy committees in order to prepare for widespread consultations with the public on how they wish to be governed and what policies they want to see in place.”

It is now a “worldwide phenomenon” he said where “people do not want to be left out of the governance process. That will demand a change in the style of leadership to one that is more inclusive and participative.”

He said there is need to bring young people “below 35 years of age into the party and I still think she has the ability to attract the youth into the party. So I give her my support but I will be very strong in terms of what I would like to see for that support.”

There has been criticism within and outside the party that Persad-Bissessar had been too silent on national issues, but Rambachan said he expected she will continue to “have a fair share of criticism.”

Admitting that there have been times when he himself had “doubts about her decision making,” he said leaders have to make decisions which sometimes may not meet with everyone’s approval.

But he said at this time there is a need for “unity of purpose,” within the party.

Asked whether he felt some sitting MPs will switch allegiance to other contenders for the leadership of the party, he said: “the fact that we all worked as a team as never before to bring down the PNM will be the guiding factor that will keep people together.”

Oropouche East Member of Parliament Dr Roodal Moonilal says he will not be challenging Persad-Bissessar for the leadership in elections to be held in November.

Speaking to the T&T Guardian yesterday Moonilal who had challenged Persad-Bissessar in the 2015 internal election said he had decided against challenging her two years later because “I am not interested in any position. I have quite a few other matters on my table.”

Moonilal has recently been named by the Government in an investigation involving corruption in contracts given out by the Estate Management Development Company EMBD while he was the line minister. He would not say whether that matter has impacted his decision but told the T&T Guardian “if the current political leader Kamla Persad Bissessar is offering herself, I am prepared to support her.”

Vasant Bharath said he will have to “consult with my team that I have been working with for the last year,” before he makes a final decision on whether to contest the November election. But he said he is giving it “serious consideration.”

Bharath challenged Persad-Bissessar in 2015 and said he will need “assurances,” that there will be accountability in the process. This after allegations of corruption and voter-padding plagued the 2015 election.

Rambachan described Bharath as a “very brilliant man,” who he said had a lot of “good skills that a UNC in government will need.”

He is advocating that “it is important at this stage for the political leader to speak with everyone who has a contribution to make to the development of the party.”

Nomination forms for the internal elections will be available at the UNC’s head office, Exchange Village, Couva, from October 30 to November 8.

The internal elections which will be held on November 26.

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