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Deyalsingh takes St Joseph seat
There was a close end to the race last night when the People’s National Movement’s Terrence Deyalsingh captured the St Joseph seat, forging ahead of United National Congress’s Ian Alleyne by a narrow margin of 779 votes. Deyalsingh’s victory has increased the PNM’s seats in the House of Representatives from 12—won in the 2010 general election— to 13, reducing the People’s Partnership administration’s seats from 29 to 28. PNM leader Keith Rowley crowed around 9.45 pm, “The PP Government has lost its mandate to operate. This has got to be a Guinness Book of Records (entry)—losing four elections in one year. Call the general election as soon as possible, sooner the better!” Deyalsingh was hailed as winner by wildly celebrating PNMites at the PNM’s St Joseph office, where they chortled and boasted that Deyalsingh had given Alleyne a “wetting”—a term Alleyne had made popular on his Crime Watch programme. Deyalsingh said his victory showed the PNM, with a good candidate, could beat back Government “inducements.”
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, whose administration suffered its fourth electoral defeat in 11 months, spoke almost an hour after the PNM’s victory was announced. Persad-Bissessar, congratulating all candidates, said, “While the results may have been very close, we must accept the voice of the people and we accept it and congratulate Mr Deyalsingh—but my MPs have served notice, you’re just there until the next election.” The UNC’s Alleyne said he was not a “loser,” since he had accomplished a lot in ten days and lost only by several hundred votes. “It ent over yet, I’m coming back again and I’m not leaving the UNC,” Alleyne added last night, blaming the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) and his former friend Om Lalla for “split votes.” The Elections and Boundaries Commission issued a statement just after 9.30 pm saying preliminary results of the by-election showed Deyalsingh with 6,356 votes and Alleyne with 5,577 votes. The ILP’s Om Lalla obtained 1,976 votes, losing his deposit, independent candidate Errol Fabien won 300 votes and the Democratic National Assembly’s Michael Lopez, five.
The EBC estimated the percentage of the electorate which voted was 53 per cent. Of the total electorate of 26,891, some 121 were special voters who had voted already, entitling 26,770 to vote yesterday. ILP leader Jack Warner last night said yesterday’s defeat was more of a “growing pain.” He turned the focus to the PP, saying the administration had lost four elections in one year and others had more reason to worry than the ILP. “St Joseph hasn’t heard the last of Om Lalla,” Warner also said, congratulating Deyalsingh. Deyalsingh and Alleyne established early leads from 8 am, running almost neck and neck at one point, until 9 pm, when the gap widened. PNMites at the party’s St Joseph office started celebrating from 9.15 pm, just before the final results were obtained. Deyalsingh replaces former MP Herbert Volney, who resigned from the UNC in September when the seat was declared vacant. Volney had won the seat from the PNM’s Kennedy Swaratsingh in the 2010 general election with over 10,000 votes, approximately 3,000 more votes than Swaratsingh.
Deyalsingh, who was appointed a PNM senator in 2010, will become the ninth PNM MP to hold the St Joseph seat since 1956. The NAR and UNC had held the seat six times since then also.
PNM officials said last night Deyalsingh’s seat in the House of Representatives is expected be in “close proximity” to the party leader’s, probably midway along the row. The victory is yet another electoral advance for the Opposition. This follows January’s Tobago House of Assembly ”whitewash,“ July’s defeat of the UNC/PP in its heartland Chaguanas West and also in the local government polls of two weeks ago, in which the UNC took five corporations to the PNM’s eight. The UNC’s fourth electoral loss last night prompted its coalition partner, the Congress of the People (COP), to warn that the defeat was a message to the Government. However, the UNC’s St Joseph co-ordinator, Ganga Singh, last night said the narrow margin by which Alleyne lost showed the UNC had held strong and seen a “resurgence” after its local government performance. Alleyne had said during the campaign that he was on vacation from his Crime Watch programme. It could not be ascertained last night if or when he would return to hosting the show.
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