Several United National Congress (UNC) frontline MPs say they are yet to decide if they would seek to represent their constituencies following Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar's announcement on Monday that the party would start accepting nominations from May 11.
At Monday's UNC forum at Guaico Government School, Sangre Grande, the PM said the general election was at hand and from next Monday, the UNC would begin distributing nomination forms for potential candidates.
She did not give a deadline for submission. Last month UNC officials had said screening of potential candidates would be done in a two-week period after an election date was called. The Opposition People's National Movement has almost completed selecting its team to contest the polls.
The UNC has the majority (18) of the People's Partnership's 26 MPs apart from the five Congress of the People (COP) MPs, two Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) MPs and Movement of Social Justice (MSJ's) Errol McLeod.
Nominees would be screened by UNC's screening team headed by Persad-Bissessar and including executive members.
Among UNC MPs polled, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal said he had not decided if he would agree to be nominated again. "I have to discuss things first with my family and constituents, etc," he said.
San Juan/Barataria MP Dr Fuad Khan said he had given 20 years of his life to T&T and had to decide between nomination and returning to service his patients in his specialist field of constructive urology.
"I also think the Health Ministry has been put on a proper footing now so it's a pretty easy choice for me but I haven't officially decided yet," Khan said.
Chaguanas East MP Stephen Cadiz said his renomination was an issue that was the focus of on-going discussions with constituency groups.
He added: "The best person put forward is the person we want to have go up. While I'm the incumbent we – groups, party, nominees, etc – will continue talking. We have a little time and we will see how it shapes up.
"Everyone will have their say. There are lots of people I'm sure will want to throw their hats into the ring and the seat isn't owned by anyone save the UNC currently.
"Regardless of whatever future decisions, I'm a staunch party supporter and will always support the party and my Prime Minister but be assured PNM's recent Chaguanas East troubles won't make us complacent."
Naparima MP Nizam Baksh who said he wanted to continue added he would want to speak with constituents first on if he "should go back or if people wanted new blood among some of the old faces."
Fyzabad MP Chandresh Sharma, who resigned last year but was cleared by police on a domestic partner issue, said he would agree to be nominated.
Cumuto Manzanilla MP Collin Partap whose breathalyser conviction is now before the Appeal Court said nomination would depend on the party groups with which he would be meeting over coming days.
Sacked minister Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh whose conduct on a domestic Caribbean Airlines flight is still being investigated by police, didn't reply to texts on his position.
Tabaquite MP Suruj Rambachan said he would put up his name for nomination and it would be up to the screening team to decide on the team which would best represent T&T.
Couva South MP Rudy Indarsingh said recently he was open for nomination and ready for screening.
Toco/Sangre Grande MP Rupert Griffith said he had been working in the seat constantly since 2010 and would decide on his position. Mayaro MP Winston Peters was unavailable but UNC's Mayaro unit officials said Peters would be nominated again.
Other UNC MPs didn't answer calls. PP senators Kevin Ramnarine and Christine Newallo-Hosein (St Joseph caretaker) didn't respond to queries whether they would agree to be nominated.
Other parties position
The five COP MPs' names – Winston Dookeran, Carolyn Seepersad Bachan, Lincoln Douglas, Rodger Samuel and leader Prakash Ramadhar – were nominated to COP's executive two months ago.
COP and the UNC are holding seat allocation discussions.The COP wants 13, the six it held and seven others it contested in 2010 and lost.
Dookeran says he hasn't made an announcementt whether he would contest or not. Sources close to him said yesterday he may not be interested in returning as an MP but other work at regional/international levels where there are offers for him and may also like to have input on a successor in the seat.
He is heading speakers at UNDP's current forum on the Caribbean's future.
TOP's Tobago East MP Vernella Alleyne-Toppin says she would submit her name for nomination again when the party processes begin. Colleague MP Delmon Baker didn't answer calls.