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VASANT BHARATH

GAIL ALEXANDER

A new United National Congress will return stalwarts who’ve been alienated from the party and will have a committee of elders comprising former MPs, says leadership contender Vasant Bharath.

He also offered those plans while deeming the Kamla Persad-Bissessar leadership a failure – including on the recent Anti-Gang debate in Parliament

Speaking at a meeting last night, Bharath added, “To the current leadership, I say the entire nation is looking on. If you cannot manage your party’s affairs and its democratic internal election with honour and principle, how could the country expect you to provide distinguished, competent and fair national leadership?”

Bharath lamented T&T’s state under the People’s National Movement but said the UNC offered no hope either.

“We meet at a time when T&T’s in international headlines for all the wrong reasons, because of a horrible migration crisis inflicted upon us by the incompetent, uncaring Rowley regime,” Bharath said.

“We’re here when more people are falling victims of gory crimes, more jobless workers have no food and flash floods affect households. … when corpses are falling out of a hearse and a newborn is dumped, but zessers are partying like nobody’s business – and children are being deported against the law.”

Listing other problems, Bharath added, “And if that’s the state of the re-elected Government, the parliamentary Opposition offers no better hope. But we shouldn’t be surprised – in recent general elections the UNC leadership was unable to topple the weakest most incompetent PNM regime in T&T’s history.”

Bharath said in T&T’s economic and other difficult circumstances, there’s need for an Opposition that could mobilise the nation in people’s interest, the way UNC founder Basdeo Panday had rallied workers.

He said in the Parliament, the UNC had bungled any effort at national interest in abstaining from supporting the Anti-Gang bill

“For days, the Opposition Leader said she’d support the amendment if Government guaranteed bringing procurement legislation. But in Parliament, she and her merry band of hemline devotees abstained,” he said.

“Things got more bizarre, when an Opposition senator bitterly attacked the Police Commissioner. Clearly, he had the leader’s tacit support because she didn’t intervene.

“In it all, the Opposition continued speaking from both sides of its mouth, leading to widespread condemnation from national stakeholders including businesses. The mishandling of this vital issue is an assault on common sense and a glaring example of the haphazard, dysfunctional state of T&T’s so-called alternative government. This is the result of absentee leadership.”

Bharath said the infantile approach to national business is seen in several new MPs.

“One brash immature member has been nasty to members simply because they support my slate. One person who had his own party and once demanded the leader’s resignation over Section 34 is now viciously attacking members.”

His plans include having a team to handle alliances/unity with others. He said there would also be a probe on why UNC lost elections, a party school would be established and headquarters would be sought. Robert Ramsamooj will head the rebuilding committee.

Bharath said irregularities his team cited in the election haven’t been addressed and while members were getting texts and phone calls from the other team, the electoral list his team received had no phone numbers.

PNM unifying UNC dividing

Deputy UNC leader candidate Joe Pires said the PNM brought in Penny Beckles and Brian Manning and was creating unity while UNC was dividing.

He noted that Abraham Lincoln said he’d destroyed his enemies by making friends.

“It’s time to make friends in our party and unite,” Pires said.

Elections officer candidate Kamini Ramraj said the incumbent leader’s way has failed and if UNC wanted to see government again, members have to leave the “safety” of Opposition. She said the election wasn’t about Bharath or the leader but whether UNC will stop being irrelevant.

Deputy chairman candidate Hershael Ramesar said the team’s proposals included having a congress after the election, where a motion for unity would be aired and members would be the ones to decide who the UNC should unite with. He said he loved UNC’s leader but, “the hardest part of true love is knowing at some point one has to let go.”