Vasant Bharath will contest the United National Congress Internal elections.
The former Minister of Trade confirmed he threw his hat in the ring, as he believed the party required radical changes after a string of losses in national elections.
“My faith in the UNC as a party is still very whole, it is still very total, it is unquestionable. And the reality is that I have no intentions of sitting idly by as a spectator and continue to watch its further destruction and bill it so the answer to you question is yes I intend to run,” said Bharath during a radio show yesterday.
He added, “I intend to put up and work with a highly respected and committed team for the election on December 6. I am hopeful that we can convince the membership of the party that it needs to change, it needs to change radically, it needs to start attracting people outside of its base.”
On Monday evening during the UNC’s Virtual Report, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar confirmed that the polls would be held on December 6, after several calls from some of her detractors that elections should be held.
She had responded to many of those detractors last week, stating that they did not respect the UNC membership and had only viewed the party as a means to ascend to power.
One of the most vocal critics Devant Maharaj, who had paid for several billboards calling for the Siparia MP to step down, had previously stated his intention to contest the election.
Bharath said yesterday, that the party needed to be more inclusive in spite of dissenting voices within.
“I think the first and most important priority for the party is to unite the people of the country, unite all of those members who have been cast aside for frivolous reasons. There has been no disciplinary action brought against them as far as I am aware so the first thing is to unite those voices who have value to bring to the organization you know and they are many of them outside, we even saw in the last general election many people who offered themselves were not accepted,” he said, pointing to experienced members who appeared to be sidelined.
“People like Fazal Karim, people like Bhoe Tewarie, people like Ramona Ramdial, Larry Lalla for example, Kevin Ramnarine, Fuad Khan. All of these people were actually rejected for no good reason that has been advanced by the party nor the political leader. There are others on the outside as well, people like Mickela Panday and Mr Panday himself who have been forced to form, in the case of Mickela, to form her own organisation because of her frustrations with the party,” the former Minister said.
Meanwhile, Political Analyst Dr Winford James said it was premature to say if Bharath had enough support to supplant Persad-Bissessar as the political leader, even though he had been spoken off brightly as an alternative to Persad-Bissessar.
Dr James said while there was the point of view that the Siparia MP should step down because of the UNC’s successive elections, Persad-Bissessar still commands significant support from grassroots membership and working-class women.
Bharath opted out of the 2017 internal election, after being trounced in the 2015 internal election which Persad-Bissessar won by almost 15,000 votes.