National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters says it will be a pleasure to fight his former United National Congress (UNC) party in Moruga but UNC Members of Parliament are rallying around their Moruga candidate Michelle Benjamin to ensure he loses.
This, as the PNM continues candidate selection today. Peters, the sole nominee for Moruga, will be screened by the PNM’s screening team.
After five Moruga nominees, including incumbent MP Lovell Francis were rejected by the screening team last Saturday, the PNM’s Moruga executive interviewed and approved Peters on Tuesday.
Members submitted their recommendation on him to the PNM’s general secretary yesterday and were informed of the screening today.
Screenings are being done at Queen’s Hall for seven areas–Moruga/Tableland, Point Fortin, Couva North, Fyzabad, Tabaquite, Naparima, Princes Town.
The party has already approved 19 candidates out of 21 seats screened.
The deadline for submission of the remaining PNM nominees is tomorrow.
Peters was the UNC’s Mayaro MP from 2007-2015. Despite seeking nomination for Mayaro for 2015 general elections, the UNC replaced him with Mayaro businessman Rushton Paray, a former PNM member.
On “fighting” his former UNC colleagues, Peters said yesterday: “It‘ll be a pleasure. Once officially chosen today, I aim to dispatch them with alacrity. My family lives in this area…I lived in Moruga as a child.”
He added: “I divested UNC long time ago! I’ve supported PNM since last election. I’m a bona fide card-carrying lifetime PNM member. And I’m ready to rumble!”
Yesterday UNC MP Roodal Moonilal said: “I’ve known Gypsy for 25 years. He’s taken a major decision to contest a seat for PNM. But I’d have thought they’d give him a safe seat, considering the deterioration of PNM’s support in that area as Local Government results showed.”
He added: “It’s unlikely he’ll win, He’ll merely be used by PNM as a sacrificial lamb to ill-speak the UNC. Gypsy wasn’t chosen by UNC in the 2015 elections and there were reasons for that – and those reasons may still be alive.”
“From the Local Government results and UNC’s work in Moruga, our candidate Michelle Benjamin will be victorious.
“I’ll be on the battlefield helping her. But I wish him the best outside of politics,” Moonilal added.
UNC’s Moruga candidate, Benjamin said: “The people deserve an energetic, honest MP. I’m a second-term councillor and I’ve witnessed the area’s deep neglect under the Rowley Government. Mr Peters will be part and parcel of that. So it doesn’t matter if it’s a new PNM candidate–it’s the same PNM the people suffering under.”
UNC Princes Town MP Barry Padarath (in Florida) said he’ll also assist Benjamin whose area borders his.
“She’s consistently held her area which previously used to go back and forth between both parties. Her votes increased by 400 in her second term,” he said.
“She can win convincingly. That area was badly affected by water woes. Gypsy may have family in the area, but people won’t be hoodwinked by a new PNM face. Michelle’s been with the people all along,” he added.
Naparima MP Rodney Charles added: “As a bordering constituency, we’re committed to helping Michelle.
“But Gypsy has no chance whatsoever. PNM moved Lovell (Francis) since their polls show the same thing ours shows–that we’ll win Moruga.“