Prakash is PP’s choice
By RACHAEL ESPINET Monday, October 14 2013
PRIME Minister and leader of the People’s Partnership (PP) coalition government Kamla Persad-Bissessar will not represent the PP in the Local Government National Leaders debate tomorrow. In her place, Congress of the People (COP) leader Prakash Ramadhar will represent the PP.
This was announced yesterday at the launch of the COP’s Local Government Manifesto at Flagship House, Tragarete Road, Port-of-Spain. “The Prime Minister and I have spoken and she has asked me to represent the People’s Partnership at the debate,” Ramadhar said.
The TT Debates Commission (TTDC) is the host of two national Local Government debates. Last Thursday, the first debate between senior party members was held on the theme “Local Government Representation.”
Tomorrow’s debate will be on the theme “Local Government Reform”, and will be debated by the respective parties’ leaders.
Persad-Bissessar, the United National Congress (UNC) political leader was assumed to be the PP’s representative in tomorrow’s debate which is expected to see Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley represent the People’s National Movement (PNM) and Jack Warner, the Independent Liberal Party (ILP).
The COP, which has candidates contesting the local government elections had expressed anger at not being allowed to enter the debate on the ground that only one person can represent one entity in the debate. The PP, which is a coalition of the UNC, COP, the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC), can only have one person represent it at the debate.
At last Thursday’s debate, UNC deputy political leader Dr Suruj Rambachan represented the PP in that forum which had representatives from the PNM, ILP and even the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) which is not in the Local Government elections.
Persad-Bissessar yesterday said the decision was taken to let Ramadhar appear in the leaders’ debate to underline the fact that the COP remains a part of the partnership. “The COP had been locked out of the debate, even as the MSJ was allowed to participate and so, the decision was taken to give the COP a chance. The COP remains a part of the Partnership and Mr
Ramadhar is a leader,” Persad-Bissessar told Newsday.
A release from the Communications Ministry yesterday stated, “The People’s Partnership is a democratic institution in which each member is equal. In this context we felt that it was the proper thing to do to allow Mr Ramadhar to represent the Partnership in Tuesday’s debate since UNC Deputy Political Leader Dr Suruj Rambachan represented the Partnership in the first debate last Thursday.
“We are confident that Mr Ramadhar, as a senior member of cabinet and a leader of one of the parties in our coalition, would professionally present the Partnership’s position during the debate.”
At yesterday’s COP Manifesto launch, Ramadhar said the main focus of their Local Government Manifesto was to listen to the people so that they could serve them better. Making reference to the Eddie Hart Ground on which a new sporting facility is to be built, Ramadhar said it should be the main priority of any Government to listen to what the people want.
Acknowledging a “large number of the community are saying they do not wish to have a development of that ground,” Ramadhar promised the COP would listen to the people’s grievances and see how the party could help.
Dismissing statements that the COP is no longer relevant in government, Ramadhar said, “We have been working, maybe too quietly, in the face of all the criticism, denigration, personal attacks and innuendos put on the party...we say, ‘bring it’.”
Asked to comment on the issue of the St Joseph bye-election, Ramadhar said the COP has agreed not to put up a candidate for that seat, made vacant after former UNC member Herbert Volney resigned the seat. “You would remember that the UNC won St Joseph and although I know we have a candidate, we will let the UNC send a candidate for this seat,” Ramadhar said.
In an immediate reaction, the TTDC in a release expressed disappointment over Persad- Bissessar’s decision to opt out of the debate. “As stated in the Fyzabad Declaration dated April 21, 2010, ‘the partners agree that the leader of the Partnership and Prime Ministerial candidate is and shall be Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar.’ The TTDC invited leaders of the PNM, the MSJ, the ILP and the PP to participate in the Leaders’ Debate.
“Given the current political dispensation, the views of those appointed to lead the parties/coalitions are important for Local Government Reform. Based on the feedback from the people via the wider media, it is clear that the public also expected Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar to be the one to debate. The TTDC strongly urges the Leader of the People’s Partnership to reconsider her decision not to participate,” a TTDC release stated.