Political analysts are of the view that UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar should resign from the party’s helm – and former PP Minister Vasant Bharath also believes she should do so.
The views arose after Monday’s general elections where the PNM won 22 seats and the UNC, 19
After the election, UNC’s Devant Maharaj, Fuad Khan and others called for Persad- Bissessar to resign.
Other former MPs also said party introspection was needed. Subsequently yesterday, seven of the 19 UNC MPs elect issued statements supporting Persad-Bissessar to stay on.
Among them were David Lee, Roodal Moonilal, Khadijah Ameen , Saddam Hosein, Rodney Charles, Barry Padarath and Rishad Seecheran.
But former public service head Reginald Dumas added, “According to the Westminster tradition we say we follow, the leader of a defeated party in a general election normally resigns.”
“In T&T when the PNM lost in 1986 , George Chambers immediately stepped down as PNM’s leader.
When the NAR lost, ANR Robinson stepped down. I accept when the PNM lost Mr (Patrick) Manning declined to step down and in 2010 when he showed no signs to stepping down there was a demonstration at Balisier House and he then left.”
Dumas added, “I’d think in the real Westminster position Mrs Persad – Bissessar having lost a general election – again – should step down. But it seems clear she doesn’t intend to do so.’’
“However, given the Westminster tradition we say we’re guided by – she should go. Once the EBC gives final figure and it indicates the PNM has won and UNC has lost , my feeling is Mrs Persad- Bissessar should step down.”
“ She can’t have it both ways , you can’t say we follow a system and then ignore it. It’s illogical and sends the wrong message on following the tradition,” Dumas added.
Former PP minister – and still a UNC member- Vasant Bharath also said : “It is unacceptable that she’d want to hold on to office when the country clearly hasn’t given her a mandate to continue and especially with the true sense of the Westminster system which she continues to talk about – which is that a defeated leader steps down.”
“She should have done so since 2015 after losing that election and others then. This isn’t her first defeat and this latest election result is reflective of the fact that the UNC’s done very little to build the trust it lost in 2015.”
“ The argument of winning one seat (Moruga) and that PNM’s votes dropped lacks merit due to the fact that T& T’s in a first -past -the -post system and the UNC wasn’t the first one past the post in this election.”
Bharath added, “Her holding on to office is stifling the party and is inimical to T&T’s interests as UNC might represent almost half the voting population. Therefore poor representation through poor representatives will lead to poorer quality of life for all – that has dire consequences in light of what the next two years holds for T&T with the COVID pandemic fallout.”
“Many right thinking people will see her holding on as selfish and self-serving and the selection of underqualified candidates is reflective of the insurance policy comment of some commentators. The inability to beat PNM which is at its lowest ebb, signals the UNC in its current shape has very little to offer.”
Political analyst Dr Winford James said, “She should step down – she’s lost all the elections since 2010. Though the UNC tied with the PNM in 2019 Local Government polls – there is Monday’s result still. There’s a moral and ethical position that if you lead your troops into defeat, you resign.”
“Mrs Persad- Bissessar also rejected the unity process that could have given the UNC victory-. She must have known she could not win on her own but when she did make the call, it was belatedly and by that time the horse had bolted.”
Political analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath said it would be for the party to decide whether Persad- Bissessar should stay on and whether she has the energy five years down the road to take on the PNM – or whether she grooms a new leader
“Members will have to decide whether she brings to the party at this point, stability to regroup and grow or if she steps down and if the party will be able to find a suitable replacement for her in the near future. In the PNM, in 2010, when there were calls for the removal for the late Patrick Manning, there was a possible successor. I’m not sure the UNC has a singular person who will not be challenged for leadership.”
“The idea is whether to know if she’ll be there to lead UNC ahead or if she won’t if she should allow the party as much time to develop around another leader who would be able to create the framework to take it forward.”