PM: LOCAL GOVT ELECTION IN TWO MONTHS
By MIRANDA LA ROSE Monday, July 22 2013
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has hinted that local government elections will be held within the next two months, and that general elections before the next two years is up.
“There was a battle in 2010 — one in January for the leadership of the party and another in May for the Government. Today we have another battle,” she said alluding to the Chaguanas West bye-election.
She added, “In two months time there will be another battle, and in two year’s time, maybe less than two years, another battle.”
Persad-Bissessar was a special invitee at an extended morning service yesterday at the Devi Mandir, Vyas Hindu Complex on Caroni Savannah Road where she addressed devotees and leaders of the Hindu community under the aegis of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMs).
Also present were Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Transport Minister Chandresh Sharma, and Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj.
General Secretary of the SDMS Sat Maharaj told Newsday all the mandirs in the Chaguanas West constituency wanted to offer blessings to the Prime Minister and her candidate, Khadijah Ameen.
“So we invited them. All the temples from La Paille Village right down to Munroe Road are supporting the Prime Minister,” he said.
Persad-Bissessar and Ameen were showered with blessings by Pundit Rampat Maharaj after which the entire congregation was invited to partake in a thanksgiving lunch.
Thanking them for their support and asking them to join her in the battles being fought, Persad-Bissessar said the battles were part of the war against poverty, and criminality, and to make sure that every creed and race find an equal place in the country.
“I ask you to join me in that war. We will win that war,” she pledged.
Declaring she was not afraid of fighting the current battle for the Chaguamas West seat, she said Ameen was a daughter and child of the UNC who has never abandoned it, and was even locked up during the PNM administration for defending farmers who were squatting on State lands because of her belief in justice.
Thanking Sat Maharaj for the outstanding role he has played in education and in the social field in TT, Persad-Bissessar said her first job after she graduated from the University of the West Indies was one in teaching at the Lakshmi Girls’ Hindu College. She was interviewed by Sat Maharaj for the job.
“I want to thank him very much. When I went for the job I was very scared. Even now,” she admitted that Sat Maharaj still instills some fear in her.
Amused by her remarks Maharaj recalled that he was impressed by the “beautiful” young woman who approached him for the job to teach English Language and who subsequently left to take up a lectureship at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. He continues to be impressed by her performance, he said.
Responding to Sat Maharaj’s remarks that one of the greatest things her administration did was to give a laptop to each first former in the secondary education system and which has caused Trinidad and Tobago to be ranked seventh in the world in information communication technology, Persad-Bissessar said, “In my second term in office, if you give me the chance, I will give every primary school child a tablet computer.”
“Within five years in office every child from forms one to five will have a laptop and be computer literate,” she said adding, “When I finish my job we will be number one in technology.”
Noting the UNC administration in the past acknowledged the role that schools managed by religious bodies have played in the country’s development, Persad-Bissessar said that it was under her watch as education minister under the past UNC administration that four other Hindu-managed secondary schools came into being.
This was done in collaboration with Sat Maharaj, she said. The schools are the Parvati Girls’ Hindu College, Saraswati Girls’ Hindu College, Vishnu Boys’ Hindu College, and the Shiva Boys’ Hindu College.
She has called on the Hindu community to now partner with Government to establish preschools to ensure universal early childhood education in TT.
Emphasising the importance of education, she said when their great grandparents came from India with only their jahaji bundles and no travellers cheque, visas, or diplomatic passports, they brought with them the Gita and the Ramayan that have taught and given them strength.
On her visit to her ancestral home in India last year, she said the one message she left with the people who came out to greet her was to “make sure your children get an education. It is the only passport out of poverty. There is no other way.”
Her parents planted rice and sugar cane, she said, and bundled bodi at nights to sell in Penal and San Fernando markets, but they made sure that she got an education. “That is why, I am who I am today,” she said.