Tabaquite MP Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, who is competing for the post of political leader, on Wednesday night hinted to moves to force him and UNC political leader Basdeo Panday out of the party.
“An opposition party without Ramesh or Panday is what is being envisaged,” Maharaj told the audience at Tarouba, San Fernando. He implied former RamJackG colleague, Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner, may be connected to such moves, fuelling speculation of a rift in their political friendship.
“I told my good friend Jack Warner while I support his vision for change the last thing I am prepared to do is to allow the political base of the United National Congress (UNC) to be dissolved, migrated or absorbed by any other political party.”
Maharaj said the public also needs to question why members of rival parties, the People’s National Movement (PNM) and Congress of the People (COP) were congratulating Siparia MP Kamla Persad-Bissessar, another challenger for the leadership, and not “Ramesh and Panday.”
Warner, who has publicly thrown his support behind Persad-Bissessar, yesterday defended Persad-Bissessar and himself in response to Maharaj’s statements.
“No one who knows Ms Persad-Bissessar can even remotely suggest or infer that she will ever allow the UNC membership to be absorbed into another party,” he said.
As for Maharaj’s remark about him, Warner replied, “I am not prepared to offer any suggestion as to what Mr Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj is inferring by his statement and as such, I do believe that he is the best person for you to ask.”
Standing up again for Persad-Bissessar, Warner said, “I am prepared to say that one of the strengths which Ms Persad-Bissessar will bring to the UNC when she becomes its political leader will be her untiring efforts to unify and strengthen the UNC once again.”
Mayaro MP Winston “Gypsy” Peters, another former member of the RamJackG faction which campaigned for the UNC elections under the “Movement for Change” banner, questioned what Maharaj meant by his statements on Wednesday.
“Is it that he is planning to hitch his wagon to that of Panday’s in the hope of drawing the people to both of them? I also paid attention to his comments that the UNC is nothing without him or Panday but while he worked with us he kept making calls for Panday to go. How could he now make contrary statements, I find it is a loss of integrity,” Peters said.
UNC insiders agreed Maharaj’s statements suggest he may be trying to make up with Panday and claimed he had several meetings with, Panday, Mickela Panday and Kelvin Ramnath, days before Panday left for London. When Newsday contacted Maharaj asking him to clarify his statement he would only say “I will be speaking more about it tonight (last night).”
Peters insisted there was no collusion among anyone and Maharaj knew that. “I don’t know of anyone who wants to destroy the political base of the UNC,” Peters said.