It happens every year as we celebrate Indian Arrival Day. I get phone calls and emails, and it comes up in conversation with friends, colleagues and family.
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Joy and sorrow at Rienzi Complex
Joy and sadness came together at the Rienzi Complex in Couva last night as thousands of people flocked to the historic site to celebrate the second anniversary of the reign of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar as political leader of the UNC. Amidst the joyous celebration, government ministers appealed to their supporters to continue to pray for PNM Member of Parliament and former prime minister Patrick Manning, who suffered a stroke on Monday night. As early as 4 pm, supporters flocked the complex. However, by 6 pm all access roads leading to the complex remained clogged by a massive traffic jam, as more than 100 police officers from Southern and Central Division worked overtime to direct the traffic flow. Supporters were forced to park in nearby canefield tracks and walk to the complex.
Dressed in yellow and waving flags, the supporters threw their love for Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner, who arrived shortly after 6.15 pm. Warner, who was immersed in controversy after he received his invitation late, took a seat in the front row of the stage, next to former minister Daphne Phillips. Meanwhile, leader of the Tobago Organisation of the People Ashworth Jack told supporters that they must always pray for “all our leaders.” “I heard the news that the former prime minister Patrick Manning is ill,” he said. “We are all children of the most high and I am saying the same way we believe in our leader, we must believe that every former leader is deserving of prayers. “I admonish the nation. You have a responsibility to pray for all our leaders. Sometimes we tend to forget that.”
A moment of silence was also observed for ardent UNC supporter, Ronnie Cabelto, aka “Fatboy,” who died several weeks ago. Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal told supporters that Cabelto always attended UNC functions and could be seen distributing water or directing traffic.
Moonilal said Persad-Bissessar brought hope to T&T. He said because of the Prime Minister’s Life Fund, more than 12 children had undergone life-saving surgery. “If a child was sick, the Commissioner of Police had to stamp approval to sell barbeque tickets,” Moonilal said.
“Today, you can access $1 million to save your child.” Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Surujrattan Rambachan showed a video of Persad-Bissessar’s visit to India. Supporters wept as they saw the Prime Minister being bestowed with the highest honour of India. The supporters were also treated to a song from chutney singer Kris Persad aka KI, who sang his hit song “Single.” Mayaro MP Winston Gypsy Peters also gave an extempo reply to the song and brought loud applause from the audience when he sang that he will stay married forever. Also speaking up to 8 pm were Minister of National Security Brigadier John Sandy and Warner.