Wednesday, December 16, 2009


What if your name was Basdeo Panday? What if you had “struggled” for more than 40 years in the political trenches and now as you are approaching the end of your eighth decade on the planet you find the political hounds nipping at your heels and the cloud of possible jail time hanging over your head. What if you did not want to “ride out into the sunset” but you found yourself facing a serious political challenge in just over a month from now that could easily spell the ignominious end of your long and battle scarred career? What would you do?

As I have said before, if ever you want to understand a problem...any problem... go back to basics. So, I found myself asking this question. What if I was Panday? What are my options? Well, as I see it the options facing the legendary ‘Silver Fox’ are as follows (incidentally, these options are those that I can see; if you can think of other options please let everybody know):

Option 1: Roll over and die; admit that I am at the end of my rope and give up.
Analysis: It is most unlikely that I would do this (remember that ‘I’ am Basdeo Panday). This would go against everything that I have stood for and would be completely out of character for me. We can probably safely discard this option.

Option 2: Go up against Kamla and Ramesh in a fair fight and marshall my still considerable strength to beat them.
Analysis: Risky. Polls show that I am not as popular as I used to be. While I could probably beat Ramesh fairly easily (he is the least of my problems), he is likely to take critical votes away from me, and Kamla, who is quite popular, could slip through. Further, there is a risk that the opinion polls are correct, which will mean that Kamla will trounce me and will find myself with no cards at all in my hand left to play, not even a Jack (pun intended)!

Option 3: Cheat.
Analysis: But that is also very risky. I could be caught out, and if the support for Kamla is really strong then her supporters will cry foul, and heaven alone knows where that could end up. They are already saying that I will cheat! So, what do I do? I have to think out of the box. But there is a fourth option that could allow me to stay in power and keep everything together. And it’s one that my opponents will not be expecting:

Option 4: I do not run for Political Leader of the UNC. I leave that for Kamla and for her to lick up Ramesh (which she will do). Instead, I do as I did before and go up against Jack Warner for the chairmanship of the Party. That way I could lick up Ramesh (well, Kamla will do that for me) and I will probably be able to beat Jack as well. The RamjackG faction will be dead like the proverbial ducks and I will be clear. I won’t have to resign as Leader of the Opposition and I can work with Kamla. Yep! This is a good “out” for me!
Analysis: It could work. Nobody will be expecting it and I will have the advantage of surprise. Further, Jack Warner is not as sympathetic a character as Kamla. He will be easier to beat!

Well, what do you think? What if you were the old ‘Silver Fox’? What would you do?


  1. Mr. Montano,

    I just wanted to throw my two cents in. Option 4 is probable as there is precedent to support this. It is the most likely of scenarios for a few reasons:

    (1) Basdeo Panday wouldn't have to loose an election.
    (2) Ramesh would die politically without Panday raising a finger.

    However, given so little options, you can hardly cover all possibilities. I bring to the fore another possible set of events.

    Option 5 - Panday contests the leadership and looses or does not contest the leadership. Either way, he is not political leader. Panday (or Vasant) does not win the post of Chairman of the UNC.

    What would I as Basdeo Panday do?

    Publicly endorse the new chairman and leader boasting that the UNC is most democratic party in the Caribbean. I would stay on very good terms with Kamla and being to repair my relationship with Jack. 6-months post-election I would get my agents to develop concerns at the party and grassroots level that Kamla is a weak ineffective leader and would not be able to take us into government. For the next 6 months I would instruct my faction to engage in covert warfare with Kamla'a faction highlighting her weaknesses as a leader.

    I am the most charismatic and convincing political that Trinidad has ever seen so I would take my campaign into the public domain eventually. My training as a stage actor provides me enough ability to modulate the minds of the fickle/transient UNC supporters causing them to shift their support back to me and regret their decision to vote for Kamla and Jack.

    Ultimately, I would regain my lost position(s). I would win. The UNC would suffer. The country would suffer. However, I am Basdeo Panday so my behaviour and its effects are in line with my history.

  2. Before I make my comment, please allow me to address one of the points in the last comment by anonymous, Panday would not be able to easily convince anyone that Kamla is a weak leader, she has been at the fore of the UNC’s charge in the parliament, her contributions in the house has been very strong in the absence of Panday (remember he was out for a year) she has stood up to the government on many issues with very strong arguments, stronger than Ramesh’s.

    Now to the issue of the internal elections of the UNC. Mr. Montano’s option 4 resembles something I have thought about and expressed in another place. I am of the opinion that Kamla’s decision to contest the leadership post is not hers alone nor is it because of any calling from her supporters, I am of the opinion that Panday is behind her contesting.

    Analysis: Panday has been around for a very long time, he has been labelled many things; stupid is not one of them. He (Panday) is very aware of his shrinking support base, but does not know how to let go, (politics is the man’s life). For him to hold on to the UNC he must have someone who is loyal and Kamla fits this bill (listen to Kamla’s speech on her campaign kick-off), once Kamla licks up Ramesh and Vasant is elected chairman then Panday would the leader who commands the support of the majority of opposition members in the house and retains opposition leader.

    There is but another possibility, we still have to consider a prediction by Jack that someone would soon be dropping out of the race.

    It gets interesting folks....