The People’s National Movement’s (PNM) selection of former cricketer Mervyn Dillon to contest the Toco/Sangre Grande seat in the upcoming general election is not sitting well with supporters and executive members.
In fact, it has so incensed the constituency executive that at least one of its heads, John Mason, says he is willing to walk away from the party after serving the party for 18 years, while activist Darrel Dookoo has called on the party leader Dr Keith Rowley “to go” after Dillon was given the nod over both incumbent Glenda Jennings-Smith and favourite Lorraine Heath.
Dillon was one of six nominees screened on Thursday.
In a telephone interview Friday, Mason slammed the party for selecting a candidate who has done little or nothing for the PNM. Describing Dillon as a “Johnny Come Lately” to the party, Mason said party members know little about the former West Indies cricketer.
“How can they pick him (Dillon) over qualified and loyal PNM people who went beyond the call for the party?”
Mason made it clear he has nothing personal against Dillon. However, he said the PNM was setting itself up to lose the crucial seat because of bad judgement calls.
“They can’t possibly want to win this seat by simply putting someone who has a brand name. They choose him for his popularity. I am very hurt and disappointed,” he said.
He drew reference to last December’s local government election, where the PNM lost control of the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation to the UNC due to the poor choice of two candidates.
“If they stick to this choice they are going to lose. I cannot see how the PNM can win this seat. Them days are gone where you could put anybody up for the PNM and win.
“Things don’t work so no more. It seems to me there is too much politics in politics. They come back doing the same thing expecting a different result. That is madness.”
He said the message the PNM has been sending to its support base was that they do not care.
“How the people will get delivery if this person never served?”
Angered by the turn of events, Mason who served the PNM for 18 years said, “I am willing to walk away from the party I am not going to accept that. You just can’t give me anything and do anything to me.”
Mason called on the screening committee and Rowley to give reasons why they chose Dillon.
“I cannot ask my people to support that. We will down our tools and go our way. I will not support Dillon or nobody who has not worked in the constituency. This could mash up the executive. This can also give the UNC the edge to win the seat.”
Dookoo also said party supporters were not happy with Dillon.
“We don’t know the gentleman. If you are going to fight a seat wouldn’t people know you? PNM people will not vote for Kamla. PNM people will sit on their vote,” Dookoo said.
But he said having a weak PNM candidate will give the UNC the upper hand at the polls.
“I think the PNM has collapsed. There is too much rumbling inside.”
He added that Rowley and his people “need to move now. They are expired. Their time is finished. If this party is to win an election you need to seriously look at the candidates you are putting. If we lose Sangre Grande, PNM will lose the general election.”
Sookoo admitted that he felt “angry and hurt” by the PNM’s decisions while he was being treated as a neemakaram (ungrateful) in the party which he supported for years.
Calls to Dillon’s cellphone went unanswered.