Dr Rai Ragbir

Constituents of Cumuto/Manzanilla as constituents are expressing disappointment over the selection of the United National Congress (UNC) candidate for the 2020 General Elections, Dr Rai Ragbir.

The constituents told Guardian Media the constituency executive submitted seven names, and all were rejected and they believe Ragbir was hand-picked.

A close source to the constituency executive told Guardian Media, “he is a stranger to this area. Nobody knows him and he did not put in any nomination papers for this constituency and the party again is just pushing things down our throats in the Cumuto/Manzanilla area,” adding, “we put forward so many good candidates for nominations and (they) were rejected. There is one who was rejected twice and he has national profile.”

The UNC constituency executive was hoping that former Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine got the nod.

Community activist, Preston Sam told Guardian Media that the choice made by the party can affect them at the polls.

“A lot of people who I interact with decided that they are not going to vote and a lot of people have approached me to run as an independent candidate. I haven’t finalised my decision as yet but they will be supporting me if I go as an independent candidate. If I don’t do that, a lot of people not going to vote on election day or some of them are going to cast their vote to the People’s National Movement candidate,” Sam indicated.

He said, “It hurts that the party sent someone who the people do not know, and we have educated and competent individuals out of our village that will represent our interest and deal with our problems at heart.

“We know Dr Ragbir name in the media, but we don’t know who he is, Cumuto/Manzanilla is a place of poverty and people lack basic amenities and for years we have had representation that has not given us what we need,” Sam said.

The constituents are expected to launch a petition calling on the executive of the United National Congress to change its position.

Incumbent Member of Parliament, Christine Newallo Hosein told Guardian Media she understands the plight of the constituents, but the selection lies with the executive of the party.

“There is a process and I think it was followed because it was done within the party constitution. Some people are disappointed, but life goes on and we have to band together to win this election,” she said.

Ragbir told Guardian Media this was the first time he had thrown his hat in the ring and would be walking with outgoing Newallo-Hosein to look closely at the needs of the people. Ragbir said the area is mostly an agricultural community that has been neglected by the Keith Rowley administration which, he says, failed to provide the necessary support and infrastructure for agriculture.