If one were to exit the Tunapuna Market onto the southern side and then proceed across the bus route, they would find themselves at the western end of Bharath Street, so named after Dr John Bharath, who served as the Member of Parliament for St Augustine from 1966 to 1971, as a representative of the Democratic Labour Party. Dr Bharath would later serve in the Senate, on a temporary basis, for the United National Congress during both the 1987 to 1991 and 1995 to 2000 sessions, but really is best known for his single term in the Lower House some five decades ago.
Unwilling to allow his family name to descend into obscurity, the elder Bharath would later prompt his progeny to follow in his footsteps, all the while filling his head with only the most fanciful of ambitions, hoping that his son would evade the one-term curse which he himself could not overcome. Alas, while Vasant Bharath was able to accrue more hours within the hallowed halls of the Parliament, first taking up immediately where his father left off, as a temporary member of the Senate, the early election called by Patrick Manning in 2010 meant that even though he did serve a single term in the House of Representatives, starting in 2007, he still fell two years shy of his old man and has been unable to recapture a seat since.
The reason I bring this up is because for some time now, Vasant Bharath has fancied himself as a leader of both the United National Congress and the government, based not only on his own merits but the multi-generational service for which he believes he is now personally owed. This sense of irrational entitlement caused the younger Bharath to abandon his appointment to the Senate in 2015 in an ill-conceived bid to challenge Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar for leadership of the UNC, for which he received the least votes of the three candidates vying for the position. Moreover, this came mere months after he was also defeated in the general election polls, as he attempted to re-enter the House of Representatives through the St Joseph seat. The ironic part is that since suffering these two defeats, Mr Bharath has launched a campaign to elevate himself in the political sphere, by claiming among other things, that he is superior to Mrs Persad-Bissessar by the merits of two key points:
1. That he will be able to attract more voters to the party that Mrs Persad-Bissessar has been able to do; and
2. That he will be able to secure a victory at the general election polls.
And he continually repeats these claims, without an ounce of self-awareness I may add, despite the fact that when he was called upon to attract those same swing-voters to claim a victory in St Joseph, he lost. And of course, when he squared off against Mrs Persad-Bissessar in the internal elections, he lost again. And this man has the audacity to talk about the losses of other people, when he has never won anything other than a safe seat, which his father negotiated for him, as part of their family’s legacy.
Truth be told, and as many of you would already be aware, John and Vasant Bharath didn’t start the trend of family dynasties within the political sphere of this country. Such things can be traced back to the time of our Independence when Rudranath Capildeo joined his elder brother, Simbhoonath, in the Parliament under the DLP. Currently, within the Parliamentary arm of the PNM, you will find that Faris Al-Rawi, Rohan Sinanan and Brian Manning were also chosen based on their family’s service to their political party. What this creates is a similar type of privilege to that of which Vasant Bharath is now demonstrating, while at the same time, preventing new voices and faces from entering into the political landscape and allowing the country to progress in a meaningful way.
On September 24, 1976, when this nation fully seceded from the British Crown, it was because the citizens of this country wanted to move away from a form of government which installed members of state based solely on their lineage. Some forty-four years later, however, we now have the descendants of this bygone era of politicians attempting to take our nation back to the age of monarchies only because they feel they are owed a debt for their family’s service. The reason I brought up the location and direction of Bharath Street earlier is because it travels east, towards the rising sun and actually ends directly in the Tunapuna cemetery. And I could find no better metaphor for the current state of the Bharath dynasty, as Vasant appears to be taking it straight towards the grave if he continues on the misguided path which he is currently on.