Former UNC leader Basdeo Panday is supportive of the Opposition's no confidence motion against Prime Minister Patrick Manning and intends to speak in the debate.
But while Panday confirmed his position yesterday on that issue, he had some scathing remarks about simmering UNC issues and criticism that has followed him since last Friday when his actions prevented a Parliament debate on former Udecott head Calder Hart. The Opposition filed the no confidence motion against Manning yesterday following Hart's resignation last weekend. The motion, which is the Opposition's second since 2008, is expected to be debated in 12 days time, according to Parliament estimates. Last Friday, the Opposition lost an opportunity to debate a motion seeking Hart's removal, when Panday and UNC MP Kelvin Ramnath refused to stand up and be counted among the UNC MPs who wanted the issue debated. The situation prompted COP member Ganga Singh – a former Panday lieutenant in UNC – to claim the COP's accusation of a "Manday Accord" between Prime Minister Patrick Manning and Panday was "justified."
On the upcoming no confidence motion, Panday said yesterday: "Certainly, I might probably speak on it. I hope to catch the House Speaker's eye to be allowed to speak and if I don't I'll try to catch his ear. I'll be supporting the motion. But that doesn't necessarily mean that I shall join the silence of the lambs." Regarding his views on Hart, the Couva North MP said he was aware the Uff report on Udecott and other issues would be finalised, "and if there is any wrong-doing the matter will be forwarded to the DPP for further action. That's the process, I don't see any reason why it should be different in this case." Panday said no one from the UNC hierarchy had contacted him about last Friday's incident in Parliament. He added: "I am too old to be anybody's puppet. I have never been anyone's puppet and I don't intend to be now. "So if my support is needed on an issue, at least the courteous thing to do is to talk to me about it, which will give me an opportunity to tell them if I support it or not.
"They've been crying for my blood all the time, saying Panday must go and now that I've gone, they say I've gone too far and I must support them? "Can't they make up their minds what they want? Panday is no more but where is this 'magnet for unity' they speak of. Where is the unity at all?" Panday added: "I'm not going to spend the rest of my life – which is not very long – worrying about people who have an opinion on everything beside themselves.
"I will still represent Couva North although I'm being undermined in my own constituency by my own party. But when people lack innovation, they resort to mischief." On COP member Nizam Mohammed's warning to the new UNC about mistakes and his view that Panday was "waiting in the slips" for them, Panday said: "Mohammed's cricket analogy is only partly right since a lot of them will lose their wicket by being clean bowled – some of them are making such fools of themselves." Regarding his view of one-time UNC/COP politician Anand Ramlogan, Panday said: Oh God, that speaks volumes."
Panday said it was poetic justice that a member of the audience at COP's conference last Sunday had told COP leader Winston Dookeran to allow deputy leader Prakash Ramadhar to lead COP instead. "It's poetic justice when they sent people to harass me in UNC," Panday added. On Chief Whip Jack Warner's move to sue him (Panday) for statements, Panday said he hoped the truth would come out. He said he was not attending today's UNC caucus even if Warner might be away.