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Jury out on benefits of alliance between Rowley and Ramesh
There would be a lot of people—even in the PNM— who would feel uncomfortable about an alliance between former UNC attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj and PNM leader Keith Rowley and some will have concerns whether a political alliance of convenience would be best for T&T, says former public service head Reginald Dumas.
Dumas and political scientists Selwyn Ryan, Derek Ramsamooj and Bishnu Ragoonath responded in an interview on whether Maharaj is a liability to the PNM and if there should be an alliance. On Wednesday, House leader Dr Roodal Moonilal speaking on the Ramesh-Rowley alliance, which he dubbed “RamLee”, reminded Rowley he had distanced himself from his new best friend before and had vehemently refused to talk to him, declaring he didn’t trust the former AG “further than he could throw him.”
In May 2001 Rowley, in a Parliament debate during the UNC Government’s tenure, said Maharaj had pole vaulted on his principles when he remained in the Cabinet after advising members the Piarco Airport contract was null and void and he had “allowed them to carry on and rape the Treasury.” Rowley was later told to leave the Chamber after he failed to withdraw the remark.
Dumas said: “The normal reaction in politics sometimes, and in T&T, is that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. The enemy of Rowley and Ramesh is Kamla (Persad Bissessar) so they’re prepared to work together on what they perceive as a common interest to get rid of Kamla.” He added: “But there’s obviously an amount of political cynicism in that and not everybody in T&T sees it like that. There are still a lot of people who hold on to principles and proper behaviour. So there would be a lot of people even in PNM who would feel uncomfortable with the situation.”
“Yes, they may want to get rid of Kamla and bring the PP to heel, but they may not be sure that a Rowley- Ramesh alliance within the Roundtable is necessarily the best way to go. They may not be sure what that alliance to bring the PP down could lead to, and if that would truly be in T&T’s best interests.” “Also in making an alliance of convenience, what message does this send to society, especially the youths, about ethics? That you will do anything to get into power? What message does it send about yourself as well as how you would run T&T?”
He added: “So the PNM has to be vigilant on how the uncommitted public will see this alliance because a lot of people unhappy with the government will not jump to embrace an alliance between Rowley and Ramesh.” Political analyst Ramsamooj said the Roundtable is more about a position of power than about transformation of T&T’s political culture or real change.
He said: “The question of Maharaj being a liability or asset to the PNM at this point is somewhat premature. The fundamental issues confronting society is that of choices of political leadership, governance style and possible political alternatives to the Government. Clearly T&T is in search of a leadership that can manage the internal affairs and improve the quality of life for citizens on the fronts of law and security, economic management to restimulate the economy and implementing a social agenda addressing poverty.”
Political scientist Bishnu Ragoonath said he could not make the call about Maharaj being a liability or not. “What I can say is the comments made by the PNM leader about not trusting Maharaj is and will be a concern for many PNMites. The challenge though is they may see Maharaj as an ally helping undermine the PP Government, so they may well see the situation evenly balanced,” he said.
Political scientist Ryan said the Roundtable on which Rowley and Maharaj appeared was only to discuss national matters and he saw no reason why Maharaj would be a liability to the PNM as he wasn’t joining the PNM. He said he didn’t see why PNMites would be upset by Maharaj’s contribution. Ryan thought Maharaj’s address at the recent St James meeting was well focused and complimented him on it, though Ryan said he didn’t agree with everything.
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