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Disgruntled Congress of the People (COP) members have bypassed leader Prakash Ramadhar and are seeking out former leader Winston Dookeran to once again take up the reins and save the flagging political party. The Sunday Guardian understands that battle lines have been drawn among COP members over who should lead the party. The COP internal elections bell rings next month.
While the sitting executives remain tight-lipped about the brewing contention and continue to present a united front, the Sunday Guardian understands that long-standing members of the party have already approached Dookeran, seeking his intervention to boost public confidence in the party. Dookeran, in a brief interview yesterday, confirmed that he has been approached to once again take the helm of the party.
“Yes, I met with quite a few people who have asked that I intervene,” Dookeran said. Though he, too, was hesitant to speak on the insider issue, Dookeran said he was not sure if to take up the internal call for his guidance within the COP. “I really do not want to say anything about what’s going on there because it could be misunderstood, but yes, people have been approaching me,” he said.
The Sunday Guardian was informed that one of the main concerns within the party was that the COP was politically dead and that under the current leadership, was being subsumed under its coalition partner, the United National Congress (UNC). The Sunday Guardian also understands that Dookeran has already met with Ramadhar in a bid to sort out the increasingly tense situation.
One senior member of the party told the Sunday Guardian that at the recent meeting, Dookeran laid out all the issues that were brought to his attention. “Dookeran still commands a lot of respect from true COP members, and Prakash will do well to listen to the boss when he speaks,” the party spokesman said. Dookeran also confirmed that meeting with Ramadhar. “I spoke to him (Ramadhar) about that and all the issues that have been brought to me,” Dookeran said.
When asked specifically if he was aware of internal concerns that the COP was being subsumed under the UNC, Dookeran said he also raised that concern with Ramadhar. “I have discussed all these matters with Ramadhar,” Dookeran said.
Friction between Ramadhar and Seepersad-Bachan
Among the concerns within the party is that existing friction between Ramadhar and party chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan could affect the internal elections line-up next month. The COP’s nomination day is within the first week of June and its elections is carded for sometime within the last week of that same month, party insiders said. This gives the COP mere weeks to sort out the internal contention.
“Seepersad-Bachan is waiting to see what happens between now and then before she decides whether she would contest the internal election or not,” a party insider close to Seepersad-Bachan said. The COP member said it was widely known within the party that if Ramadhar re-contested the leadership post, Seepersad-Bachan was prepared to walk away from the party executive.
“However, if Dookeran comes back, she will support him. She is not happy with the way things are in the party under the current leadership,” the senior COP member said. The Sunday Guardian also understands that Ramadhar told his supporters that he was currently weighing his options. “He may not run in the upcoming internals either,” one member close to Ramadhar’s camp said. Several attempts to reach both Ramadhar and Seepersad-Bachan by texts and telephone calls were unsuccessful.
No comment from COP leader Prakash
On Thursday, the Sunday Guardian texted Ramadhar, informing him of the information and asked, “Are you contesting the leadership at the COP internal election?” There was no response. By Friday, the Sunday Guardian again texted him, informing him that the article was being pursued and what party insiders were saying about both him and Seepersad-Bachan not contesting the upcoming internal elections.
By Saturday morning, the Sunday Guardian texted Ramadhar again saying “Morning, we got Mr Dookeran on the story. Please call me,” which also failed to garner a response.