Monday, January 25, 2010


Well, in a very short time it will all be over … the UNC elections, I mean. It has certainly been a most interesting few weeks. Things began to get interesting when there were serious hints that Kamla Persad-Bissessar was thinking of throwing her hat into the leadership race. Then we had reports from persons who “definitely knew” that she was not going to contest the leadership, only to be proven wrong by the lady’s rather graceful announcement of her candidacy. And then, of course, there was the ubiquitous Ramesh who has tried valiantly to live down his past and the trust issue. Finally, we had the old lion king returning from his Christmas holiday in London only to find that he had a real fight on his hands.

My information is that up to about the end of last week (more or less) Bas was actually in front and would (legitimately) win this coming Sunday’s internal UNC election. However, about four or five days ago there appears to have been what can only be described as a “seismic shift” on the ground in favour of Kamla. What exactly has caused this shift I have been unable to pinpoint, but there are certain “straws” that a seasoned political observer can look at that indicate that Panday is facing a serious tsunami on Sunday. One of these is the late defection of Harry Partap, the Member of Parliament for Nariva. Partap declared for Kamla on public radio on Thursday morning. I had heard earlier that Partap was one of five UNC MP’s that had quietly said that they would support Kamla for Leader of the Opposition if she won. (Jack Warner and Winston “Gypsy” Peters are amongst the five. I know who the other two are, but as I was given those names in confidence you will forgive me for not sharing them with you.) There is obvious speculation as to why Partap would defect at this time. My own personal view is that he is “on the ground” and is reading the signs very well. Putting it shortly, he wants to survive the Kamla tsunami … and you can’t blame him for that!

Another sign is that Panday was virtually run out of Barrackpore last night (Thursday). He tried to play it down on the radio this morning, but my information from people who were there is that the very small crowd (less than a hundred) did not want to hear him and almost stoned him! Extraordinary, indeed! Incidentally, I know Panday very well. I thought that he sounded listless and depressed this morning … more going through the motions than anything else. Certainly, he got a hard time from the presenters … Ken Ali in particular, whose questions were very fair, but tough. (The interview was more along what you tend to get in the First World than we are accustomed to in the Third World. Hopefully, this heralds a new era in journalism in this country where journalists are more prepared to ask the hard questions of our leaders and would-be leaders.)

History has a way of repeating itself. The last big Indian leader to go down in flames was Bhadase Maharaj. The difference is that although it became clear that Capildeo was going to defeat him, nobody was telling Bhadase that they were not going to vote for him. This time Panday is being shown scant respect.

By the way, if I haven’t mentioned Ramesh it is because he is really nowhere to be found. He has restricted his campaigning basically to his constituency in Tabaquite and if truth be told has not been able to excite the UNC heartland in any meaningful way. He does have a few hardcore supporters, but nothing really that would put him in serious contention.

There is a lot of talk about possible cheating at the polls. Jack Warner has been shouting it from just about every rooftop! Even if Panday and his troops wanted to cheat, my information is that it is now going to be difficult if not impossible to do so. The tsunami is too large and there are too many people in place who will be watching. Of course, anything is possible, but it looks like we are going to be waking up on Monday to a new political paradigm … or ‘para-dig-m’ as one ex UNC Minister once pronounced it. If a Kamla victory does occur, then a lot will change … it will have to! But then that’s the subject of another post.

Note: Post from 22 January that did not get published due to a technical problem.

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