Jack Warner (and all those calling on Basdeo Panday to step down as Opposition Leader) stop the talk and just do it (go to the President). This was the view of Siparia MP Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday as she responded to Deputy Political Leader, Jack Warner’s statements that very soon nine MPs would be approaching the President to remove Basdeo Panday as Opposition Leader and install Political Leader Winston Dookeran. “Stop the talk. And just do what you think is your duty,” Persad-Bissessar stated. “If it is your wish to write to the President, just do it,” she added, saying that it was all just “a lot of hot air ..with no action”. She said people should stop the fighting and back-biting.
Persad-Bissessar who was reluctant to become embroiled in this issue because she was focusing on Divali celebrations, said she supported Panday for the position of Opposition Leader. Pointing out that it was a time for Divali and Eid observances, Persad-Bissessar hinted that the timing of this onslaught against Panday could not be worse. “Our community is involved in prayer, fasting and bonding at this moment,” she noted. Nariva MP Harry Partap echoed Persad-Bissessar’s sentiment but was more blunt. “Jack should shut his mouth and give the party a chance to breathe,” he said. Partap too made it very clear yesterday that he would not be prepared to support Panday’s removal as Opposition Leader under any circumstances. “I am an unrepentant supporter of Mr Panday and I will stick to that position,” he said. “Why should I vote to remove him? No one has answered that question,” Partap stated. Asked if he had been approached (to support Dookeran), Partap said there was nothing to approach him about since he was firmly in Panday’s corner.
Partap said he wondered if Warner was referring to Senator Sadiq Baksh as the ninth MP — which of course would mean nothing since Dookeran needs the support of nine elected MPs. Partap said from his understanding of things, there was no negotiation for Panday to step down as Opposition Leader. He said if Dookeran (as he says) wanted unity in the party, he would advise Warner to be quiet. “We can’t resolve our problems when Manohar (Ramsaran), Ganga (Singh), Baksh talking out there. Suppose all of us begin to talk (to the media, what happens)? Partap said the party had to deal with the matter behind closed doors.
He said he did not support this “public lynching” of Panday. “First they wanted him out as Political Leader, now as Opposition Leader. When would it end? They would then want to kick him out as Chairman. And just imagine Jack Warner saying that Mr Panday will not be on the next team (to face the electorate) Who is Jack to say that!” Partap thundered. He said the next UNC team was a matter for the Executive. He urged the Progressives to “contain themselves” and give the party a chance “to settle down. You can’t be talking all this nonsense in the media and expect the healing process to take place,” he said. Tabaquite MP Adesh Nanan was also unequivocal about his support for Panday as Opposition Leader. “The reason I joined the Executive was to work with Mr Panday and to gain from his vast experience. So I don’t intend to support anybody else. As Mr Panday says the Opposition Leader is determined by the MPs in the Lower House, and not the Senate. So all the Senators who support Dookeran, means nothing,” he said.