Many accused the MP of non-representation and shouted to Manning that if she “Ojah-Maharaj” was elected as a candidate for the next general election – which Manning has been teasing the nation with since the PNM Special Convention at the Convention Centre in Chaguaramas last Saturday – then they “will vote for the next party”.
Even though Manning was greeted by a few villagers most of whom remained in their yards, just a handful decided to follow the political leader on the walkabout. Manning listened to the usual complaints of no water and bad roads, but directed them to the PNM public relations officer Jerry Narace and other PNM officials. Even before the walkabout started, party members shouted to Manning to “take back” Ojah- Maharaj. The taunts and heckling geared towards the MP did not cease, even when she addressed a gathering during a cottage meeting at the Emporium opposite the Valencia Police Post at the Valencia junction.
“We don’t want you, go from here, you are a waste of time, gone from here,” the taunts came.
Even Manning did not remain unscathed, as placard-bearing protestors stood at the entrance of the Emporium booing the political leader as he strutted by.
Manning’s expression remained stoic as he did not acknowledge the small gathering of protestors. A couple of the placards were blatant in their message to the PNM, that the people were fed-up with the present regime. The placards read, “PNM rest in peace” and “Poor people getting poorer under the PNM.” However this did not daunt the PM, who again accused the media of targeting him and his Government. Manning said it was a shame that a reputed newspaper claimed that 20,000 supporters turned up at Saith Park in Chaguanas last Saturday to support Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
“We counted less than 20,000, at peak, and I am being very generous, the attendance was 4,000 people. At Chaguaramas the attendance was 17,000 people, so I can understand why the editorial writer had suddenly gone silent on this matter. So that editorial writer was wrong on that issue, as it has been wrong on so many issues of a political nature.”
“That is why the PNM has not been depending on the newspapers. Since October last year we started walkabouts and they’re not seeing the political leader alone. It is every coordinated leader, every elected representative, every senator who has been assigned to a constituency to oversee.”
Manning said since conducting cottage meetings since 1971, present-day cottage meetings have been producing the largest audiences he has ever addressed.
“We have come to the conclusion that the newspapers just seem to be dead set against the PNM, and that is why we don’t rely on the media. That is why we come to you, so they can’t distort what I am saying to you tonight.”
He noted however that he was not referring to the reporters present at this cottage meeting. He said the information coming from the media should be taken with a dose of salts. Manning said the PNM was organised while the Opposition was not, noting that their platform was being occupied by “has-been politicians, political rejects, and people who have been resurrected from the dustbins of political history.”
“Who are the fresh minds, with the fresh ideas for which you look? They are trying to recreate the ONR, not the NAR and that thing dead since I don’t know when. If Trinidad and Tobago wants to fall into that nonsense again, it is up to them. The UNC started off with confusion at the top, not at the bottom. They squabble when there is nothing to fight over. Just imagine, what the position would be if you put God out of your thoughts and give them something to fight about,” Manning said.