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PNM Tunapuna candidate Esmond Forde celebrates his victory with supporters last night..

Anna-Lisa Paul

The People’s National Movement’s (PNM) Esmond Forde retained the Tunapuna constituency in this year’s General Election with a total of 9,409 votes. However, in 2015 Forde had cemented his win with a wider margin and a total of 11, 228 votes against UNC’s candidate Wayne Munroe who got 7,613 votes.

This election, Forde emerged victorious over his closest competitor–the United National Congress’s (UNC) David Nakhid who secured 7,326 votes.

Celebrating with his loyal supporters just after 10 o’clock last night at his constituency office along the Eastern Main Road, Tunapuna, Forde thanked God for sparing his life to see yet another victory, the PNM’s Political Leader Dr Keith Rowley for believing in him, and his loyal supporters in that order.

Surrounded by party loyalists and old schoolmates, Forde said although it was a long campaign and one which was different as it was under restrictions as a result of COVID-19, it had been worth it.

He said, “We focused on our campaign and not the Opposition. We did it our way and maximised on our strengths.”

Forde credited former minister Eddie Hart for also supporting his campaign.

Asked what was ahead for the next five years, Forde said while he already has an agenda, his main focus would be the construction of a “virgin road from Tacarigua into Tunapuna, across the Caura River with a bridge.”

He said another important task was helping to improve the youths in his area and increasing agriculture production in the Caura Valley and Mt St Benedict.

Asked if they had encountered any problems during the voting process, Forde said there were three instances during which voters were allowed to leave the polling stations with their signed poll slips. He dismissed complaints that the UNC had placed posters close to one of the polling stations as he said, “People’s minds were already made up as to who they were voting for.”

He also denied claims by the UNC that both he and Hart had been canvassing in the vicinity of Hillview College. “Hillview College is my old school. When I went up there today (yesterday), I met one or two friends I knew from Hillview and we were just talking. I don’t need to campaign today (yesterday). My campaign ended on Saturday.”

Late-night celebrations by Forde and his supporters were dampened after the police interrupted to caution people about the need for social distancing and wearing masks.

Meanwhile, at Nakhid’s constituency office a short distance away, the disappointment was evident on the faces of the people who lined both sides of the road.

Expressing disappointment that he had not gotten the mandate from the electorate, Nakhid said, “We are heartened by the inroads we have made and we are very confident that the tide will turn very very soon, that the national community will stop voting based on ethnic lines like they have in this election.”

He expressed hope that a true national unity government could one day represent T&T again.

Indicating that he had been bitten by the political bug, Nakhid said, “I love how I was able to represent the people of this constituency. I think we made some progress against a very large number deficit from 2015, so I look forward to fighting again for the people of T&T in the future.”

Nakhid acknowledged that while it had been a tough fight to gain ground along the east/west Corridor, it was a feat they had managed to achieve.

He said it was now time for the party to reflect on all that has happened. Nakhid pledged his allegiance to the UNC and its political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.