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Congress of the People’s leader Prakash Ramadhar says he is disappointed that party founder Winston Dookeran has endorsed the party’s chair, Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, for the leadership post in the party’s June 29 national executive elections. Tomorrow is nomination day and Ramadhar, who is also the Minister of Legal Affairs, is expected to be challenged by Seepersad-Bachan, the Minister of Public Administration, and deputy political leader, Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Lincoln Douglas, for the leadership post.
In an interview with the T&T Guardian yesterday, Ramadhar said he did not need Dookeran’s endorsement. “Having done that, he having endorsed, that is alright. I don’t need an endorsement from any office-holder. I need an endorsement from the voters of the COP,” Ramadhar said. Noting he has always acted in the interest of the country and the party, Ramadhar said he was not one to engage in “dogfights everywhere to take front page cover on issues that nobody should be celebrating, or be taking cheap political benefits from.”
He said he was referring to many issues in the past where COP members went to the media without authority to so do, adding the unauthorised media comments only sought to create more animosity and hate. The minister said he believed in “dignified leadership where one is strong but not loud about it.” Commenting on the recent move by some members to have Dookeran return as leader, Ramadhar said “what they were asking for was for me to step aside and to install Dookeran without an election.”
Saying he knew who the movers of that measure were, he said had he accepted that proposal “I would have been damaging the democracy in the party. They created this image that it was a pro-Dookeran and anti-Prakash movement.” But Ramadhar said he was certain Dookeran would not have contested against him. “So they have used people in the process and at the last moment (they) just throw the jockey off and replace it with another one, right, and we have seen an endorsement, which I am disappointed in.”
He said that was not supposed to happen in the COP. Ramadhar said he was seeking re-election to “vindicate my stewardship and to get a mandate to go forward.” He said there was a real possibility of political fallout in the COP based on how the elections were conducted. Without calling names, Ramadhar said he was learning very quickly “that there are people who are very good at putting on a good front while using others to do their dirty work, so there is a danger of that happening but it won’t come from me.”
San Fernando West MP Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan is undecided on whether or not she will contest the leadership post of the Congress of the People because of personal attacks and mudslinging. Her comment came in the wake of a series of Facebook attacks against her and former COP leader Winston yesterday. In reference to former COP leader Winston Dookeran, the blogger wrote: “At 72 years, this old fart needs to retire. He can barely walk or sit in Parliament without dozing off.
“He vacated leadership due to his unpopularity...He now endorses the wicked witch from the west (Sando West)...selfish woman, arrogant and totally reckless in her comments.” In a telephone interview yesterday, Seepersad-Bachan said the blogger was a senior adviser to a government minister who was peeved because she had refused to endorse 50 per cent salary increases for political appointees. “Why should I approve of this increase when public servants got only five per cent,” Seepersad-Bachan said.
Expressing hurt at the blog, the minister said mudslinging was one of the reasons her family was opposed to her contesting the elections. “Everybody on my case since Anil. They are condemning me for what I said. One of my greatest fears is the mudslinging and already I am seeing it in the blogs,” Seepersad-Bachan said in reference to the party’s decision to suspend Sports Minister Anil Roberts over his refusal to co-operate with the internal probe into the controversial ganja video.
She said she did not want a “nasty campaign.” She added: “This kind of attack is unnecessary and that is what I don't want in this election. We do not want a nasty fight. It is not healthy and this is one of the reasons that I have not decided to contest.”
She also said she met with COP stalwarts of Chaguanas on Tuesday night and received overwhelming support. She added that she planned to meet with her constituents tonight before making her final decision. She also congratulated Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Dr Lincoln Douglas who has also thrown his hat into the ring.