Monday, March 31 2014
CONGRESS of the People (COP) political leader Prakash Ramadhar yesterday called for the resignation of Minister of Tourism Chandresh Sharma over newspaper reports stating he was subject to a police assault probe.
“The COP calls on Minister Sharma to tender his resignation from the Cabinet until his name is cleared,” COP political leader Prakash Ramadhar said in a press statement. He said if Sharma does not resign, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar should take action.
“In the absence of the Minister’s resignation, the COP expects that the Prime Minister, Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar, will move with alacrity, as she has done in the past, to preserve the integrity of her administration and of the institutions of State,” Ramadhar said. The COP is the second-largest coalition partner.
Sharma did not answer calls or immediately return messages yesterday.
The COP political leader said the reports potentially indicated “serious allegations”.
“It was with great disappointment that I read the headlines of this morning’s newspaper which made allegations of serious misconduct by a Minister of Government,” Ramadhar said. “The COP hopes that the accusations levied against Minister Chandresh Sharma turn out to be untrue.”
Ramadhar said the COP was making its call in line with its past practice.
“Notwithstanding that, the COP has been consistent in its position that where serious allegations are made against senior public officials, as in the case of former Minister Jack Warner, such persons should remove themselves from office until the allegations are properly investigated and resolved,” he said. “Alternatively, they should be removed from office.”
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, the Cabinet’s legal adviser, did not respond to calls.
General Secretary of the Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) Ashton Ford called for Sharma to resign.
“He should be honourable enough to tender his resignation until the investigation is up which is normal in this public life,” Ford said. “He has to set standards and an example. One of the things that young persons look up to is persons in public life whom they will seek to emulate.”
Ford said if Sharma does not resign, the Prime Minister should take action. “We call on the PM to take the same action as she did with Glenn Ramadharsingh,” he said. Ramadharsingh was fired, he noted, for allegations of poor conduct on an inter-island flight to Tobago.
Acting Commission of Police Stephen Williams yesterday stated the investigation into Sharma remained ongoing.
“I have not asked for a running update of this matter but the investigation is on,” Williams said. “The investigator assigned is investigating and he will submit his findings to his superior. I cannot say how long that will take. I have given no directions in relation to it. But he is conducting his investigation.”
There are reports that an altercation involving a female and Sharma took place at the Grand Bazaar car-park, Valsayn, on March 12. The probe is said to be looking into a report by the woman filed at the St Joseph Police Station.
The woman, identified as former beauty-pageant queen and businesswoman Sacha Singh, was last night quoted in a television interview saying she was with Sharma and a relative.
“It got into an altercation amongst all of us,” she said. “He pushed me and slapped me. Pushed me hard. So hard I fell and blacked out.”
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday declined comment over the reports of an investigation. The Prime Minister was approached following a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the formal opening of the St Barbara’s Spiritual Shouter Baptist Early Childhood Care and Education Centre (ECCE), Maloney.
“The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) is having their sports day today, and they’re almost complete, so I would like to spend a little time with them,” she said. “God Bless all of you.”
As the Prime Minister was walking to her car a reporter asked if she had “any response to the investigation into Minister Sharma”. Persad-Bissessar did not comment.