In T&T: Panday plans to take back UNC

14 December 2011


Return of the ‘old guard’…Panday style. Former PM and UNC leader speaks to clique-ism within government ranks.

Almost two years after Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar wrested power from her former leader, United National Congress (UNC) founder Basdeo Panday yesterday stated his intention to take back the party. He declared, however, that he wanted no position. “I am sorry…I want no office,” Panday insisted during a news conference at his Rienzi Complex, Couva, office yesterday. He said he had acceded to the request of the rank and file who had been asking him to play a role in rescuing the party from Persad-Bissessar. “I shall serve in an advisory capacity only,” he explained.

The former prime minister also signalled his intention to offer a full slate to contest the UNC’s internal elections which are due early in the new year. “Over the past several months, I have been inundated with calls, mainly from the rank and file of the UNC, asking me to help them take back the party from those who stole it from them in 2010,” he said. “Over the past few weeks, I have been giving this request serious thought and deeply considering this matter, as to whether I should or should not do so. “I have come to a decision…I have decided to accede to their request to lead the fight of the ordinary people, rank and file, to take back the party, but on certain conditions.” Panday detailed the conditions, which include putting up a full slate of candidates in the next internal party elections and “holding no office.”

He conceded that it was not going to be an easy struggle. He said the struggle, which he has themed Generation Next, would only progress if he had the support of the people. He explained that the theme suggested that young people must have a significant part to play in their party and consequently in the Government. “I shall only continue to lead the struggle if and only if the people are willing to carry it through,” he said. “This is their party and their struggle.” Panday said he recognised that this was not going to be an easy road, but he was confident “that victory is not only for the swiftest, but for those who endureth to the end.” He chastised the current People’s Partnership government, saying it had severely fractured the UNC’s struggle for national unity.

He accused the PP of alienating the Muslim and Afro-Trinidadian community by arresting, detaining and subsequently freeing them without charge during the state of emergency and alleged assassination plot against the Prime Minister. “Decisions are taken by a small clique that does not consult or even inform the party of what they are going to do,” he charged. Panday said supporters believed that the UNC, which was formed in “cold rain, thunder, mud and slush,” was now being given a bad name and reputation by the PP government. He said this new look of the party was caused by those “opportunists and Johnnys-come-lately who now control the party.” The Generation Next group plans to build support by engaging in a series of public and cottage meeting, and use of social networking Web sites.

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