By SEAN DOUGLAS Saturday, October 19 2013
WEEKS of heated campaigning will today come to a head as the three political parties each hold their final rallies, each of which is expected to attract thousands of supporters.
The yellow-jerseys of the United National Congress (UNC), the white T-shirts of the Congress of the People (COP) and the green-clad backers of the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) will all blend into a golden battalion at the People’s Partnership (PP) rallying at Mid Centre Mall in Chaguanas.
The “red army” of the People’s National Movement (PNM) meet at Eddie Hart Grounds in Tacarigua, while the “green brigade” of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) rally at Endeavour Grounds in Chaguanas.
Each party will put the finishing touches on its campaign of media blitzes, local groundwork and national rallies in Trinidad’s 14 municipal corporations. With the title, “The Homecoming”, the PP will invite any wavering supporters to now “come home” as it defends its track-record with its motto, “Others talk, we deliver!”. Perhaps trying to link its historical past to a vision for the future, the PNM will again be offering the public its new motto, “I must believe!” The ILP will likely continue to urge the public, “Put us to work!”
Trying to get across the PP’s message today will be featured speakers led by Prime Minister and UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, COP leader Prakash Ramadhar and NJAC deputy leader, Embau Moheni.
The PNM’s platform will be led by Opposition Leader, Dr Keith Rowley. The ILP rally will present interim leader Jack Warner, chairman Robin Montano and deputy leaders Lyndira Oudit and Anna Deonarine. All parties are sure to also present their candidates for each of the 14 municipal corporations. Candidate speeches are also expected, especially for the seats and regions being specially targetted by any given party.
In between the seriousness of the formal speeches, party supporters will also be roused by popular local entertainers. The PP has advertised that its entertainment will include Roy Cape and Blaxx, Baron, Black Stalin and Dil-e-Nadan, plus others. Crazy is also expected to sing his somewhat saucy ditty, “Cyah Beat D Partnership”. Ras Pilot could also do his impersonation of the Mighty Shadow to allege, “They Gossiping”.
The PNM platform is sure to include Peter C Lewis to soar with his rousing anthem, “I must believe”. The ILP is likely to feature De Fosto singing, “Uncle Jack”, plus Brian Mohan and Big Rich with their catchy hit, “Jack Warner!”
For those persons who cannot be present, the PP, PNM and ILP rallies will all be broadcast over television and radio.
Today’s rallies come at the end of a three-way fight in which each group has been the subject of attacks by the other two groups. The PP has attacked Warner’s personal suitability for office given his FIFA and Concacaf woes, while the PNM has said the ILP is a not a true party as its has only interim officers having never held an internal election. Rowley dubbed the ILP a “one-man show” in the person of Warner. ILP deputy leader Anna Deonarine has sought to fend off allegations about her acquisition of a motor vehicle.
The ILP’s appeal has been to those disenchanted with the two traditional parties’ alleged lack of performance at a local and/or national level, and their ethnic foundations. The ILP is hoping to build on Warner’s recent win in the Chaguanas West bye-election where his common-touch and high-visibility deemed him to offer good representation to constituents.
The PNM has been attacked for the failures of the former Patrick Manning government which had been accused of both high-handedness and squandermania. Rowley’s challenge is now to substantiate his platform claims that “the PNM is under new management”. The PP has been attacked by the PNM for the scandals of “Section 34” and “Reshmi Ramnarine”. The ILP has also made serious personal allegations against UNC honchoes (within the PP) who in turn have refuted them.
The PP is touting its performance at both the national level - such as helping children with free laptops and the Life Fund, while boosting the economy and the energy-sector - and at the local level, by building a record number of box-drains and paving a record length of local access roads.
Today’s rallies culminate an election campaign that has ranged from the seriousness of high-level public debate to actions that some may regard as theatre.
The first debate of the TT Debates Commission (TTDC) saw the PP’s Works Minister Dr Suruj Rambachan and the PNM’s Diego Martin North East MP Colm Imbert generally hold their own, but a disastrous showing by the ILP’s Ken Roach and a stellar performance by the Movement for Social Justice’s Akins Vidale. A second TTDC debate among party leaders failed to take place. The theatrics of the campaign include the ILP’s post-midnight march yesterday morning to “fire” the Chaguanas Mayor and to present a new plan for the borough. Instead they “thanked” the Mayor. (See page 4)
The theatrics were even seen in television adverts featuring Warner and the ILP. A PP advert has alleged an “ILP-PNM” conspiracy in a parody of American rapper Eminem’s hit by asking, “Will the real Jack Warner please stand up?” However also on a youth theme, the ILP has offered a lively video of youngsters of every shade “stomping”.
With the St Joseph bye-election overlapping with the local elections, recent PP rallies in support of corporation candidates have been graced by the presence of none other than UNC bye-election candidate, Crime Watch host Ian Alleyne, vowing a “wetting” on the PP’s political rivals.
Even as Alleyne could well make an appearance at today’s PP rally, public opinion is split as to whether or not his celebrity status can boost the chances of the PP’s local election candidates, even ahead of mulling his own chances in the St Joseph polls. The ILP’s Om Lalla and the PNM’s Terrence Deyalsingh, both candidates in the St Joseph bye- election, have also appeared at rallies in support of local government candidates, and could each well put in an appearance at today’s rallies.