Ria Rambally and Rosemarie Sant
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PM promises to take out ‘17% Rowley’
Kickstarting the UNC’s 2015 election campaign into high gear, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar bragged she will “take out the 17 per cent man any day, any time, any how.” The PM was referring to Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley and was addressing a full hall of UNC MPs, mayors, councillors and party group leaders at the party’s parliamentary caucus meeting at its Rienzi Complex headquarters, Couva, on Monday night.
She dubbed Rowley the “17 per cent man” because only 14,000 of the PNM’s 82,000 electors voted for his slate in the party’s Sunday internal elections. The PM said Rowley instituted the one-man-one-vote system for the election and had boasted that 82,000 were registered to vote. She said she waited to see on television on Sunday night how many thousands would vote for Rowley’s PNM but the results were generally low in all constituencies, with only a fraction of the electors voting for Rowley’s slate.
Giving an example, she said: “In Naparima, there are 25,000 electors. Only 61 voted for Rowley’s PNM. “There are about 25,000 to 30,000 electors in each constituency and the pattern was the same.” She said while there were good people in the PNM, the most frightening prospect was a Rowley-led PNM. “This is the same man who said our children in La Platte were ‘duncey-head’ children,” she warned. The PM felt the results of the PNM elections signalled a victory for the People’s Partnership in next year’s general election.
Persad-Bissessar said Rowley had been telling the country the PP Government only cared about South and Central, but asked: “Who is opening a technological centre in Diego Martin? Who is widening the highway in Diego Martin?” She said the Government was facing a barrage of criticisms from vested interest groups and she was even criticised for smiling too much but vowed to continue smiling and asked supporters to smile with her.
She said people were criticising the Government everywhere, in maxi taxis, hairdressing salons, barber shops. “You stay quiet but you are never alone,” she assured supporters. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Your party is indeed strong and getting stronger by the day.” She spoke of infrastructural development in rural areas and said the Government had started its national conversation to communicate one-on-one with citizens to know their needs. People text her and she passes on the texts to the relevant ministers, she said.
“I listen and then lead.” The PM said she got a lot of texts asking for houses, but said: “You can’t get every single thing you want.” She said the Government just did not have enough houses and promised the construction of another 3,000 would start in the coming weeks.
She told supporters if ever their party needed them, it was now and challenged them to come out in numbers never seen before at the PP’s fourth-anniversary celebrations at Mid Centre Mall, Chaguanas, on Saturday.
She said the cost of transport would be paid for those who could not afford it.
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