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Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh

Over the past two days the country has seen nothing short of a spectacle between Ian Allayne, the Crimewatch talk show host and Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh.

Yesterday, the minister spent several valuable minutes at a daily news conference to focus his ire on Alleyne who has been in quarantine at the Caura Health Facility for the past 21 days.

Alleyne claimed he was discharged from the facility on Tuesday but shortly after he got those papers, he was told that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was not allowed to leave.

Deyalsingh yesterday accused Alleyne—without referring to him by name— of playing politics with the issue.

So why did the minister responsible for the health of every citizen of this country feel the need to raise the spectre of politics from a citizen who had a legitimate right to question the testing process which remains a mystery to many average citizens?

Well a deep dive into politics, raised by none other than the minister himself, shows that these two have some history.

We are not clear if Deyalsingh and Alleyne’s lives crossed paths at any time before 2013, however, what we know is that they certainly crossed political paths when they rivalled each other in the by-election of November 4, 2013, in St Joseph.

That by-election, the country will recall, became due after the resignation of the then MP Herbert Volney in mid-2013 who was dismissed from the Cabinet of then prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

Volney had won the St Joseph seat for the UNC in a straight two-way fight with the PNM’s Kennedy Swaratsingh in the 2010 general election, with a healthy majority of more than 3,000 votes.

To contest the 2013 by-election the PNM introduced little-known newcomer Terrence Deyalsingh, while the UNC chose the popular but controversial TV star Ian Alleyne.

The problem is that this would not be a two-way fight. A spoiler was introduced in the person of attorney Om Lalla, one time close ally of Alleyne, but who was selected by Jack Warner’s ILP as the party’s candidate of choice.

Warner himself had been fired by Persad-Bissessar and proceeded to form the ILP, becoming a public critic of Persad-Bissessar.

The three-way fight extended to four when another television personality Errol Fabien joined the race as an independent, and then it was five with Michael Lopez of the Democratic National Assembly throwing his hat in the ring.

But it may have well been only three in the race Alleyne, Deyalsingh and Lalla.

Fifty-three per cent of the electorate in St Joseph cast their ballots in the by-election.

Deyalsingh captured 6,357 of the votes cast, Alleyne got 5,777 votes and Lalla just under two thousand votes. Alleyne losing to Deyalsingh by 780 votes.

Had Lalla not contested the seat, Alleyne would have won the seat with a clear majority.

Alleyne did not contest the seat in the General Elections two years later in September 2015 and Deyalsingh retained the seat by 1,600 votes with victory over the UNC’S choice for the seat Vasant Bharath.

This is another election year. No one can say for certain whether Alleyne would return to the political fray or whether Deyalsingh will return as the PNM candidate for St Joseph.