‘Don’t split votes’
By RICHARDSON DHALAI Wednesday, October 23 2013
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JOY AND RELIEF: UNC Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh, centre, celebrates the results of the Local Government election with supporters at the party'...
PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, elated and no doubt relieved that the United National Congress (UNC) repelled the threat of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) and held on to its core regional corporations in Monday’s Local Government election, says the party now shifts its focus to the November 21 bye-election in St Joseph.
She pleaded with UNC supporters in St Joseph not to allow the ILP to split votes — a phenomena which cost the UNC the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation which is now controlled by the Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) — in the bye-election.
She said a splitting of the votes in St Joseph would pave the way for the PNM taking control of that seat. Crime Watch host Ian Alleyne is the UNC’s candidate for the St Joseph bye-election.
He will be going up against his former friend and Crime Watch legal counsel Om Lalla, for the ILP, Terrence Deyalsingh of the PNM and independent candidate comedian and former radio host Errol Fabian.
Addressing jubilant UNC supporters late on Monday night at the party’s headquarters in Rienzi Complex, Couva, Persad-Bissessar said the campaign for the St Joseph seat — left vacant with the resignation of UNC MP Herbert Volney — begins in earnest today.
Persad-Bissessar, who arrived at approximately 11.30 pm on Monday at Rienzi Complex, was flanked by UNC deputy political leaders Dr Roodal Moonilal, Dr Surujrattan Rambachan and Marlene Coudray and was greeted by a bevy of dancing girls, who showered confetti on her as she alighted from her official vehicle.
To the sounds of tassa, Persad-Bissessar was led to the top floor of Rienzi Complex, where scores of supporters, who had only begun arriving after the results revealed that the UNC had regained control of its heartland corporations eagerly awaiting the arrival of their leader.
To the strains of the song ‘Home’ by American Idol winner Phillip Phillips, Persad-Bissessar walked through the crowd shaking the hands of many supporters before mounting the stage where she lip synced the song and energetically waved a yellow UNC flag given to her by a supporter, much to the delight of the crowd. Persad-Bissessar appeared tired, but the smile never left her face.
Addressing supporters, she said there is not a minute to rest as the battle for the St Joseph constituency begins on Wednesday. “Tomorrow (yesterday) we will take a rest but from Wednesday, we are out in St Joseph,” she said, adding, “St Joseph here we come!”
“St Joseph, we are coming for you. We love you, we will fight for you, we will die for you, come back home,” Persad -Bissessar urged. In an obvious reference to the ILP and its role in vote- splitting which caused Partnership member the Congress of the People (COP) losing all of the corporations it held to the PNM, Persad-Bissessar said: “I warned you! I warned you! I said if you split votes, the green will not win anything...the winner will be the PNM. And look what happened. The numbers are telling us the PNM will come back and what happens when the PNM comes back? Nothing for you!
“No Children’s Life Fund. No Couva Children’s hospital, nothing! So I implore you to learn from the harsh lessons of this Local Government election. I implore you to ignore the green party and its empty and hollow promises. I implore you not to split the votes. Keep united. Stay the course and help us to bring back St Joseph to the UNC, which won this seat in 2012,” she told supporters.
Persad-Bissessar recalled the UNC’s defeat in the Chaguanas West bye-election saying that the people had finally seen through the ILP’s hollowness which resulted in certain districts within the Chaguanas Borough Corporation, which had voted for the ILP in the bye-election, “coming back home to the UNC”. The UNC won three districts in the Chaguanas Borough, while the PNM won three and the ILP won two.
“Now is not the time to gloat about our victory. Now is not the time to be gloomy over defeat. I want you to remember, we have not lost. Tomorrow morning (Tuesday) the People’s Partnership remains the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. Tonight and tomorrow, I am still your Prime Minister,” she said as a cheer rose from the crowd.
“Whoever has won, my government tomorrow morning, we will work with you. Why? Because we want to ensure that every single representative, we want to ensure we work with everyone, this is not about party and politics, this is about the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” Persad- Bissessar said.
Recalling her address at the UNC’s final Local Government election rally at Mid Centre Mall in Chaguanas on Saturday night, she reminded councillors that their duty is to “deliver” or be fired.
“So elected councillors...deliver, deliver and if you don’t deliver...fired. MPs, deliver, deliver. If not...fired,” she added.
The Prime Minister, followed by a large entourage of supporters, then embarked on an early morning victory motorcade to Felicity, leaving Rienzi Complex at approximately 1 am yesterday.