Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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UNC, PNM Mayaro abuzz on Rambarat’s ‘candidacy’
UNC Mayaro MP Winston “Gypsy” Peters has acknowledged the 2015 general election will not be the same as PP’s “euphoric” 2010 experience—but he feels his support is stronger than that of possible PNM rival Clarence Rambharat. Peters spoke after Rambharat, a columnist, emerged on the PNM’s platform on Tuesday to offer himself for the Mayaro candidacy. It caused waves among both the UNC and PNM Mayaro units. Peters said Rambharat assisted his successful UNC candidacy in 2000 and had Rio Claro family.
On contesting against him in 2015, Peters added, “Any fight in politics is hard and unpredictable [and] 2015 is not the same as 2010 when there was a euphoric climate. This time the whole yardstick is different. We’ll be judged on performance. But I have my support and 40 per cent comprises my relatives.” Peters, who won in 2010 over the PNM’s Clifford Campbell, said he had a solid delivery record—police and fire stations, a library, and a recreation ground. Also, he had never changed his Mayaro address.
“Clarence joined a Port-of-Spain centric party which didn’t pay attention to Mayaro. He was brought in to woo Mayaro’s Indian vote. But PNM remains the same from policies to culture. My work is very visible and I don’t have to write a column about it,” Peters added. Peters urged against PP fragmentation and for the ILP and others to coalesce again. Rambharat, who says he worked with Peters in 2000 and 2002, acknowledged that he needed to win some of Peters’s support to beat him.
He said, “I’m familiar with the activists, I have constituency roots, COP relatives and I talk to people to understand how they feel.” He was in Canada from 2008 and returned for good this year. “I decided to enter politics as I had an interest in being in Parliament, contributing to legislation, debate and committee meetings. I felt the PNM made internal changes and Dr Rowley was a strong leader and I wanted to be part of the PNM’s structure and future.”
Based on activist interest, he said, he was speaking to one party group in the area where he’d grown up and the party invited him on Tuesday’s platform. Rambharat said the PNM must not be a “default government” to be voted for solely out of disenchantment with the PP.
“PNM must have a positive message and promote itself as electable on strategies rather than PP weakness. People must be engaged across the board, particularly youths to whom candidates must appeal. One can’t just say the door is open—one must go out there, especially if targeting PP support,” he added.
Rambharat feels a PNM government should not get rid of all board members simply because of political affiliation but should retain the best talent regardless. “Some issues are also non-negotiable; one cannot have political division on crime.” “PNM has some work to do. You may not want to show your hand now but there are elements you can present and it might be we need to communicate some of what we said so far in a way people can understand,” he added.