PUSH FOR VOTES
Thursday, October 17 2013
WITH a mere four days to go before next Monday’s Local Government Election, political parties including the People’s Partnership (PP), Independent Liberal Party (ILP) and People’s National Movement (PNM) last night began a final push for votes as each seeks to triumph at the polls.
Before voters make their decision next Monday, in what is the third poll for the year, with a fourth - the St Joseph bye-election due on November 4 - political parties have all fired salvos at each other.
However, the battle is clearly shaping up to be between the PP and ILP where allegations about candidates and executive members last night dominated the two party’s respective platforms at the Croisee, San Juan and Rio Claro.
But the PNM in Fyzabad, last night signalled that as the oldest party in the country, it is very much still in the race.
Dominating the topics on the PP and ILP platforms were allegations in relation to ILP interim deputy political leader Anna Deonarine and television host Ian Alleyne, the PP’s candidate for the St Joseph bye-election.
Opening for the PP was UNC deputy political leader and Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, who launched an attack on former Government Senator Lyndira Oudit, now an ILP interim deputy political leader. He queried an alleged association between Oudit and a former Flying Squad member and her qualifications to earn a five-figure salary at the College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of TT (Costatt).
Moonilal then targetted Deonarine, focusing on reports which emerged last weekend that she was one of several persons who bought vehicles that had been stolen in London, England and sold off to persons in Trinidad.
ILP leader Jack Warner, at his meeting in Rio Claro last night, defended Deonarine, not only against the stolen car allegations but also against claims about her family selling land for $13 million to Clico, when said land was bought for $225,000.
However, at the PP meeting, for a third night in a row, the coalition Government showcased Alleyne, its new star attraction, who opened his campaign as the UNC candidate for the St Joseph bye-election, on the local election platform last Monday night.
“Time to drop the bomb,” Alleyne declared as he took the stage, addressing eager supporters. “We have the ILP running,” he said, “you know why, is wettin after wettin!”
Alleyne, once a strong critic of the PP, again said he had a change of heart after realising how much had been done by Government, from paving streets, erecting street lights to distributing laptops to school children and “poor people children getting money from the Life Fund”.
He said Government had a public relations problem, noting it had to spend so much time dealing with negative publicity if could not inform the country of all the good it has done. “But don’t ‘hot your head,” he said. He hit out at Warner and PNM leader Keith Rowley, claiming the PP had fallen into a trap set by both men, echoing Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s declaration throughout the campaign that the two leaders were working together to split PP votes in favour of the PNM.
“I Ian Alleyne want to deal with Jack Warner and Keith Rowley. Let them come. Let them come. Crime Watch would partner with Government to deal with the number one problem (crime),” Alleyne said.
He kept up his attack on the ILP, raising questions about land approvals for construction of a building that party occupies in Chaguanas.
Again pledging he would bring results for the people, Alleyne promised to help “clean up the mess” of crime, working with National Security Minister Gary Griffith and Attorney General Anand Ramlogan. He also spoke of aiding the “down trodden” with health care, calling out to Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan, the San Juan MP. He halted his speech to welcome the Prime Minister who arrived shortly before 9 pm.
At the same time, in Rio Claro at the ILP meeting, Alleyne’s former lawyer and legal adviser on his Crime Watch show, Om Lalla, the ILP’s candidate for the St Joseph bye-election had a less flashy, more sedate presence on stage, staying away from attacks.
Lalla said the ILP was about “people movement” and would change the politics of TT. When Warner addressed supporters, he hit out at AG Ramlogan for his “vicious attack” on Deonarine, made on Tuesday night at a PP meeting in Princes Town, where he disclosed the multi-million land deal involving Deonarine and her mother Shama, a former UNC councillor. Deonarine was present at last night’s ILP meeting but did not address supporters.
Warner noted Deonarine would have been 19 at the time her family entered the land transaction in 1997, and questioned what her family’s business has to do with Local Government elections.
He said Deonarine was now unable to stay in her own home in the wake of the allegations.
Warner also disclosed he had offered a job to acting UNC chairman Khadijah Ameen, who lost against him in the Chaguanas bye-election. He said he wrote Ameen on Tuesday, saying he felt she had been sacrificed by the UNC. On Alleyne, Warner said the UNC had chosen someone who had pleaded guilty in relation to the broadcast of a teenager being raped and has a pending charge, but was knocking the ILP’s candidates.
Warner further took aim about the heightened public activity of Government ministers, referring to the distribution of certificates of comfort, the opening of a new segment of the Uriah Butler Interchange and yesterday, the opening of the Chaguanas Borough Corporation administrative building, although it was built several years ago.
The PNM was not to be left out. Both Deonarine and Alleyne’s name featured prominently when Rowley last criticised AG Ramlogan for raising claims about Deonarine and her family, when he and the UNC did nothing about when Deonarine and her family were supporters of the PP.
Rowley said Alleyne’s biggest selling point as a candidate was that he had, “a shoe that has a pom pom on it.” COP leader Prakash Ramadhar, in his remarks at last night’s PP meeting, called on Warner to answer for the fire truck issue and said the PNM has to take responsibility for the Section 34 debacle.