Vasant Bharath, centre, speaks with attorney Larry Lalla, right and former MP Ramona Ramdial during his campaign launch in San Juan yesterday.

Former United National Congress (UNC) Trade and Investment Minister, Vasant Bharath has officially thrown his hat into the ring for the party’s upcoming internal election on December 6.

Speaking at the launch of his campaign yesterday in San Juan, Bharath said he made the decision to contest the election because the party’s membership was fed up with losing at the polls.

“I think they are fed up of losing, they have tasted government and they want to go back into government and they need strong leadership to do that. They feel like they can’t go through another five years under the PNM regime. They feel the party had the election to take in 2020 and the UNC somehow contrived to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory,” Bharath said.

He said he had been meeting with party members regularly behind the scenes and he said they were disenchanted with the leadership of Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

He said the party is now seen as one where members feel as though they cannot speak out against any issue.

“One of the big issues and the biggest disappointment they see is the continued neglect of supporters, of members of the party, the disrespect that has been paid to them, the fact that after an election they are abandoned.”

Bharath said the members have told him the party has no structure and party groups and constituency executives do not work.

As he appealed for support from the party’s membership, Bharath said the voters must think carefully before they cast their ballots.

“This is a critical election not just for UNC but for Trinidad and Tobago and where we find ourselves in five years time will depend solely on how the vote on December 6 turns out. You can determine whether you are going back into government in five years time, or you can determine as members whether you are going to stay in opposition for the next ten years.”

He said he will be requesting independent observers for the elections as he noted there have been several instances in the party’s history where Persad-Bissessar’s administration has been questioned over the results of internal elections.

“I am hopeful that the party has learned its lessons in addressing the irregularities of 2015 and 2017, understanding that one of the reasons they continue to lose election after election is because of a lack of trust from the national community in the way they conduct themselves.”