Vasant Bharath

The United National Congress’ (UNC’s) Vasant Bharath and UNC activist Devant Maharaj both say Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s selections have healed and united the PNM and made that party much stronger.

“And that’s opposite to what the UNC’s leader did in pushing people away but PNM’s stronger than ever now,” Maharaj added yesterday.

Bharath added, “It’s a very strong PNM Cabinet and team. When one looks at the competition they will have in the Lower House, that will make them look even more formidable.”

Former UNC MP Dr Fuad Khan also said, “If the UNC had done what we suggested and united all parties in the same way the PNM has united itself—the PNM would have been history last Monday.”

Bharath said “It’s a strong Cabinet but I’m a little disappointed in the choices of remaining with the incumbents for Finance, Energy and Agriculture. These are priority areas where you need extraordinary vision and forward-thinking and I don’t—with the greatest of respect—think those incumbents provide that.”

“I’d have thought he may have looked to appoint some new people with other ideas. But other than that I’m very happy with most of the other appointments. Nyan Gadsby-Dolly is an excellent choice for Education as that entire curriculum needs to be reformed.”

“He should be congratulated for reuniting the entire PNM by bringing back Amery Browne, Penny Beckles and bringing on board Brian Manning and Conrad Enill (in NGC). It shows the level of maturity and security and that he’s putting in place (for) succession planning—the Opposition meanwhile may have a different plan,” he added.

Bharath dismissed as “just rumour”, claims that he’d been approached by the PNM to assume a portfolio such as Finance.

Maharaj also said the appointment of Beckles, Browne and Manning (son of late leader Patrick Manning) had healed the PNM.

“The appointment of Beckles to Housing—a powerful ministry— might also be seen as a hint of what may come regarding PNM leadership.”

But Maharaj added, “One of the biggest issues with the choices is why Dr Rowley brought Clarence Rambharat back as a minister after he was defeated in Mayaro and Chaguanas East and failed as Agriculture Minister. He may bring an Indian face to the Cabinet, but that’s it.”

“Returning Imbert to Finance is also a grave disappointment after he’s appeared to have no consideration for the common man,” he said.

“We also have to be worried about Marvin Gonzales who spent his time in Works and what his qualification for Public Utilities might be after we heard his first utterances, including, he said there should be water for all—something we’re hearing and saying for years.”

“Nyan Gadsby-Dolly has a track record nobody knows about and Shamfa Cudjoe who once boasted she knew nothing about Sports has been returned there. Also PNM’s oldest Youth officer- Fitzgerald Hinds – is in charge of Youth Development and National Service. Government must say if this National Service will be compulsory for youths as they once wanted it to be.”

Ex-UNC MP Dr Fuad Khan also said, “I commend Dr (Keith) Rowley for keeping people in certain posts. It shows development of continuity and a good mix of old and new. It will allow ministers to develop since it takes more than five years to do so. But compared to the new people the UNC has in the Lower House, it will now be a battle with the experienced PNM stalwart.

UNC senators tipped

Meanwhile, there’s been speculation in the UNC that its six senators to be appointed to the Upper House may include failed candidates Jearlean John, Sean Sobers and Tarhqa Obika, plus businessman Daniel Lyder, who worked with election campaigning and former MP Tim Gopeesingh. Names of defeated candidates Ahloy Hunt and David Nakhid were also heard.

But Maharaj said, “The PNM is swearing in substantial senators like Browne but the best the UNC could muster is unknown entity Lyder whose only apparent claim to fame is being married to an ex-minister and defending Kamla on Facebook. The cronyism must stop.” (GA)