“The fact that the rank and file voting membership are now supportive of Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Mr Panday should seek a graceful exit out of the political stage,” he said in a telephone interview.
“He has always stated that he would demit office once it becomes apparent that the party’s supporters are no longer supportive of him. What is required is statesmanlike behaviour, putting the interests of the country first above and beyond selfish personal gain.”
Ramsamooj was speaking in the wake of Caroni East MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh’s decision to support the UNC leader as Opposition Leader.
Gopeesingh, who was one of Panday’s loyal MPs, yesterday held a news conference at Broome Street, Woodbrook, to announce his decision.
In pledging his support to the UNC leader, Persad-Bissessar now has the requisite number of MPs to assume the position of Opposition Leader.
Gopeesingh’s announcement came closely on the heels of Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal’s decision to support Persad-Bissessar.
Moonilal, another Panday loyalist, reportedly signed a draft document on Friday indicating his support for Persad-Bissessar. after meeting with members of his constituency executive in Debe.
Both developments have effectively paved the way for Persad-Bissessar to become Opposition Leader.
Alluding to speculation that Panday may decide to form another political institution, Ramsamooj warned: “This act can significantly keep the PNM in office and will do the Opposition politics irreparable damage.
“One would hope that Mr Panday’s legacy would be sufficiently important to him, thereby facilitating him to create another political life above national politics.”
Another political analyst, Bishnu Ragoonath, also suggested that the Couva North MP go into retirement.
“The people have spoken loudly and he has to acknowledge the wish of the people — that is to literally go into retirement,” he said, referring to Dr Gopeesingh’s decision.
Ragoonath said it was still too soon to determine Panday’s future role in the UNC in light of the development.
“He may decide to take a low profile in the UNC and become just a visiting MP...He may even decide to go for longer vacations in England,” he said.
Regardless of the option he chooses, Ragoonath said, Panday must accept the fact that he has lost the UNC internal election.
Ragoonath also reasoned that Panday’s future may also be determined by the manner in which Persad-Bissessar deals with her new portfolio.
“What is important is how she treats with it. Will she put him to sit in the Parliament’s front or back bench or will he be next to her?” he asked.
Ragoonath said Gopeesingh’s action gave further credence to the fact that the party was ready to begin the healing process and move forward.
Ramsamooj said if and when Persad-Bissessar assumed the role of Opposition Leader, one of her first duties must be to consolidate and unite the UNC to include members of the labour, business and civil society fraternities. “Mrs Persad-Bissessar will now assume responsibility for creating an alternative political institution to the PNM and to also demonstrate political leadership skills that can catapult her into the office of Prime Minister,” he said.
“The management of political conflict among all anti-PNM actors would be critical as she demonstrates her own political style.”
Ramsamooj said Persad-Bissessar must recognise that Trinidad and Tobago needs one dominant political institution, which is national in scope and can effectively challenge the PNM.
He added that Persad-Bissessar’s immediate challenge would be to prepare for the upcoming Local Government election.