Prakash: I’m not moving
By Andre Bagoo and Janelle De S Thursday, October 24 2013
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Something to celebrate: COP political leader Prakash Ramadhar, centre, celebrates the election of Anita Seeram and Ishwar Muttoo as councillors at the...
PRAKASH Ramadhar, 51, the Congress of the People (COP) political leader, yesterday rejected calls for his resignation – including from his older brother Kishore, 53 – in the wake of the party’s wipe-out at Monday’s Local Government elections.
“Resignation is not an option for me at this point in time,” Prakash said at a press conference at COP offices, 161 Southern Main Road, Curepe. “That is an easy way out. I do not see that as an option at this time.”
Earlier, at a separate press conference held at the COP’s Flagship House on Tragarete Road, Port-of-Spain, Prakash’s older brother Kishore and another member of the COP executive, Kirt Sinnette, both signed a motion calling on the entire party executive to resign. Hours later, Prakash put on a brave face as he fielded his first press conference since Monday’s Local Government elections which saw the COP lose in all five corporations it contested: Arima, Diego Martin, Tunapuna/Piarco, Port-of-Spain, San Fernando. In total, the COP have been projected to have won three districts, spread across two corporations. Prakash said the COP was not dead. “In 2007, in the months after that election it was said that the COP was dead,” he said. “Yet we were able to maintain our activities. It will take a lot to come back, but yes we can.”
Prakash said the COP’s defeat in the elections was due to the “divided vote”. Although he was unable to produce any figures to back his claims, he said the Independent Liberal Party took away some of the COP votes.
He said the overall low voter turnout also may have played a part, adding voters may have responded to “national issues” as opposed to local government issues and said on the campaign trail he received many complaints about ministers in “the Partnership”. He did not specify who.
Asked if he would scale back his Cabinet duties – such as chairing the Constitution Reform Commission – in order to focus on party issues, Prakash said his Cabinet responsibilities were part and parcel of effecting the COP’s ideals.
While some factions of the COP remain undaunted by defeat, a group of dissenting party executive members and activists yesterday called for all members of the national executive to resign. They say if this is not done, they intend to resign from the party.
COP activist Satu-Ann Ramcharan; Kishore Ramadhar, secretary for research and education; Kirt Sinnette, secretary for field operations; Rufus Foster, chairman of the Arouca/Maloney constituency; and Rudy Hanamji, chairman Diego Martin West constituency yesterday headed a press conference at COP Flagship House, Port-of-Spain.
Kishore and Sinnette signed onto a motion calling for the executive to resign within seven days of the date of the election, for an interim committee to run the party and for this interim committee to censure party members who do not. Kishore said if the executive did not resign, the dissenting members present at the press conference, as well as other supporters, intend to resign from the party.
“If they fail to leave, what would be kept alive are not the ideals of the COP but the party on paper called the COP that carries the symbol of the circle of circles, will for all intents and purpose cease to exist,” Kishore said. On later learning that Prakash and other executives refused to resign, the dissenting activists said they planned to go to his office and demand resignations. Asked how he felt about his own brother – for a second time – calling on him to resign, Prakash said, “That is something you will have to ask him.” Prakash rejected claims that there are persons calling the shots in the COP.
He said the party will deal with a pending motion of no-confidence against him, drafted by the dissenting group in July, when the time comes.