Relatives and neighbors of carpenter Taranpersad Balkaran remained baffled yesterday as to how his house burnt flat in the dead of the night, with him still inside it.
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Govt, Anil on ganja video: PNM distraction
Government says a short video with a man who resembles and sounds like a minister wrapping a marijuana cigarette was just a People’s National Movement distraction that was not deserving of any detailed response. And Sports Minister Anil Roberts says the video is the start of a dirty campaign by the People’s National Movement-led Dr Keith Rowley. He did not confirm or deny he was the man in the video but said the latest attack was as a result of statements he made against Rowley in Parliament during the recent debate on a motion relating to the National Gas Company/WASA wastewater treatment plant in Beetham Gardens.
Roberts insisted he was expecting such attacks against him as a consequence. “If the video is all they have, let me tell you, video nor voodoo could make me hush up, make me shut up or make me go anywhere.” Roberts said Rowley and the PNM could not force him out of the Kamla Persad-Bissessar Cabinet. “No tobacco, no hemp, no cow manure can ever smoke me out. Good afternoon, have a great day,” he said, as he left the media without taking any questions on the video in the hall of the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair, following yesterday’s Cabinet meeting. Roberts had waited on the completion of the post-Cabinet news conference to make a statement to the media about the video which was aired Wednesday night.
Media workers, not satisfied he had addressed the substantive issue of whether the video was real, chased him after the brief statement to question him further. Asked if he could share what Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar told him during the Cabinet meeting, Roberts said he could not speak for the PM on the matter and insisted it was the start of a dirty campaign by the PNM. He said reporters should be asking instead about the World GTL project which cost the state billions of dollars with no positive result for the nation. “So you could talk about video, good luck,” he said as he made his way into a private room in the building.
Earlier, he said the Government would not shirk from its responsibility. “We shall continue to work and tell the population the truth about Dr Rowley,” he added. Warning that more negatives things will be issued in the future about Government ministers, Roberts said they “will stay focussed and not be sidetracked by distractions, by ridiculous things, by music videos, by game videos or by voodoo.” He said in the said video he saw “hate, bitterness, vengeance. I see a raging bull.” Former prime minister Patrick Manning had once described Rowley as a raging bull.
A statement issued by Minister of Trade, Investments and Communications Vasant Bharath also mirrored some of what Roberts said. Bharath said it was rather peculiar that an undated video, framing what is alleged to be a Minister of Government had surfaced. He said the video “carries no evidence of anything but a distraction from the real burning issues of the day.”
He said that “any attempt to answer the questions on the video would serve the agenda of an Opposition, (which was) so desperate to distract the population from the achievements summarised in the fourth anniversary of the People’s Partnership, that it would go to any length.” Bharath said it was not just coincidental that it was Roberts who exposed critical questions about Rowley’s personal interest in the Beetham wastewater project. He added: “Those questions remain more relevant today than any video of an alleged minister rolling an unidentified substance. “There is no relevance to the political theatre crafted by agents of mischief, produced and directed with obvious intent to distract from issues that affect the population. “The Government sees this as nothing more than a vicious attempt at character assassination and will not validate it with any further commentary.”
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