Panday must go

Constituents said they were saddened and disappointed that their members of parliament (MP), Panday for Couva North and Ramnath, for Couva South, not only betrayed the trust their constituents had placed in them but also the ethics of the Office of the Leader of the Opposition. As a result, residents in both constituencies are demanding that both men should resign immediately making way for a by-election so that faithful MPs who will follow the policies of the party and its people, could be elected.

However, in a telephone interview yesterday, Couva South MP, Kelvin Ramnath laid the blame for the situation squarely at the feet of Opposition Chief Whip Jack Warner, saying Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, had once again been embarrassed by the “incompetence and vindictiveness” of the inexperienced Chaguanas West MP.

During last Friday’s Parliamentary sitting, both Panday and Ramnath failed to tow the party’s line when they voted against their UNC parliamentary colleagues on a motion which called Prime Minister Patrick Manning or the Cabinet to fire Calder Hart as the chairman of the Urban Development Corporation, (Udecott).

Both men remained in their seats even as the rest of their parliamentary colleagues had stood up after House Speaker Barry Sinanan said the motion needed the support of 11 parliamentarians for it to be debated.

When Sunday Newsday visited the bustling Couva shopping centre yesterday, there were feelings of outrage mixed with hurt, anger and embarrassment as residents spoke about the issue which one resident described as the actions of “two little spoilt children.”

“I am a deadly UNC. I argue with everybody about Basdeo Panday because he do more for the sugar workers and the people of central Trinidad than anybody else but after what he did yesterday, (Friday), I think it is time he really goes,” resident Mohammed Khan said.

A slight man who could barely control his emotions as he struggled to find words to express his displeasure, sometimes gripping the steering wheel of his panel van as he spoke, Khan said Panday must now resign from the party, which he, (Panday), had founded, and seek a fresh mandate from the people.

“What Panday did was worse than what Ramesh did because Panday had fired Ramesh, but you can’t say you will work with Kamla and then when she wants your support, you throw her in the bamboo,” he said.

“If I was in the party I would tell him to resign and come back and fight the seat again but they have to find a way to get him out because it means now that he will support the PNM, so is Kamla against Manning and Bas,” he added.

Another Couva resident, Ronald Sookdeo agreed saying the party had to find a way to discipline both men saying Panday was also going against his calls for unification within the party following the January 24 internal elections.

“All of the time, you preaching unity, but when is time to show true unity and support the same party you like to say that you founded, you vote against it...they have to find a way to throw him out,” Sookdeo said.

Meanwhile, Raajesh Suklal, said he was also “disappointed” in not only Panday but also Ramnath, a man whom he described as an absentee representative.

“Ramnath is not doing enough for his constituency and now he just wants to aggravate people by voting against the same people that the UNC supporters vote for...that is madness,” he said. “I don’t know how they could discipline them but they have to do something because Panday is a stubborn man and when he’s like that, it will just get worse for Kamla if she don’t do something to control him,” he said.

Jimmy Jules, another Couva resident said Panday was not interested in fighting national causes but his own personal causes in the Parliament.

“If he was really concerned about the party he would have supported the party because this Calder Hart issue is a big issue. It’s a national issue and because he did not support it shows that he is only concerned about his own personal issues and that is bad,” he said.

Meanwhile, former Couva North constituency executive chairman, Orlando Nagessar said Panday’s actions had justified the decision by both himself and the other eight members of the 12-member executive to tender their resignations from the constituency executive.

“We are now justified because we were telling Mr Panday that he should accept Mrs Persad-Bissessar as the new leader and he should work with her to build the party so it was very disappointing what he did on Friday and we as an executive could not and will never support that kind of behaviour,” he said.

Describing Panday’s action as “selfish behaviour” Nagessar said his actions would only drive people away from him and solidify the support of the membership behind Persad-Bissessar.

“You, (Panday), used to criticise Mr Calder Hart and called for an inquiry into Udecott and now when you have enough evidence to force a debate, you vote against it...that was a disaster,” said Nagessar.

In full agreement was another former Couva North executive member, Ramjit Ramnarine, who described Panday’s action as “incomprehensible” saying the party would have been able to force the PNM government to answer tough questions regarding the Udecott chairman.


"Panday must go"

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