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Carolyn On Track
There are many who believe that the Congress of the People (COP) is a near-dead political force and despite the optimism expressed by its loyal members, it is only a matter of time before the COP is laid to rest in the political graveyard. While that may have been an accurate diagnosis some weeks ago, there appears to be some hope of recovery if there is timely implementation of the promises made by several candidates who won the top posts in the recent internal election.
All eyes are on Minister of Public Administration Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan who was elected to the post of chairman of the COP despite early predictions in the race that she would have been beaten by the incumbent Mr Joseph Toney. That Seepersad-Bachan was able to win the popular vote with a significant majority in a three-way fight proves that those who voted for her are expecting Carolyn to turn the party around and really get it back on track.
Of course such a feat can only be accomplished with the COP taking a good and true look at itself because it can only accomplish its mission to fix the country, if it first fixes itself.
The political leader of the COP, Minister Prakash Ramadhar, must know that he has a strong ally in his colleague, Carolyn, and together they must prove to their rank and file that they possess the quality and style of leadership that will augur to the benefit of the COP.
Carolyn has distinguished herself as a person committed to the principles of integrity and fairness and stated during her campaign for chairmanship that she will ensure that the COP is transparent and accountable to its members in all matters of state. There is an immediate need for an agreement in writing among all the parties in the People’s Partnership that will state in clear and precise terms the manner in which the parties will operate in their roles as members of Cabinet and the Legislature.
If coalition governments are here to stay, then Carolyn and Prakash should make themselves the pioneers in setting the stage for all future players, including the COP, so that the citizenry would have a better understanding of the manner in which this type of arrangement operates.
Prakash and Carolyn should use their respective skills and expertise to draft the terms of the agreement and then take the document to the COP executive and membership for their input and approval. As a junior member in the Partnership, it is in the best interest of the COP to ensure that such an agreement is made sooner rather than later.
Go to circles
There must be a proper consultative process within the COP, and the community circles that Carolyn referred to frequently in her campaign speeches should be encouraged to participate in the process. In fact, Prakash, Carolyn and other members of the COP executive should go into the communities with the objective to rebuild and re-energise these important groups.
Strict timelines should be set to complete the process because next year will present many opportunities in which the COP can showcase itself as a distinct entity with its separate political identity. There are some people who believe that if the COP maintains its distinctiveness, there will be an automatic undermining of the Government.
Of course, this is not the case and so I re-emphasise the urgency in formulating an agreement that will speak to stability and reform in the context of a coalition government. The COP must seize the moment to promote constitutional reform as is being done in the United Kingdom. The questions must be asked:
• Should there be a fixed term for Parliament so that there is no secret as to when elections will be held and no strategic advantage to be gained by the party in power which currently has the right to set the date any time within which it is constitutionally due?
• Should the term of government be reduced to four years bearing in mind that a five-year term is considered too long?
• What about the right of recall of a member of the Lower House?
All these matters, including the retention of the Privy Council, should be placed on the table for discussion and the COP should take the lead role especially since its political leader is the chair for the Government’s committee for constitutional reform.
Yes, she can
The COP has been given yet another chance to get the right politics and thousands will be disappointed if Carolyn does not implement the positive change that she so passionately articulated over the past few weeks.
Carolyn must show that she can effectively and efficiently manage her ministry, constituency and of course, the affairs of her party. The fact that she ran a successful campaign which was time consuming and intense given her duty to attend weekly Cabinet meetings, marathon Parliament sessions and matters in her constituency, is a good indication that Carolyn can multi-task and is no stranger to proper time management. I am confident that she is up to the task of getting her party back on track.
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