In 2010 in San Fernando West the PNM received 7,860 votes compared to the Congress of the People (COP)/People's Partnership 9,111 which left a margin of 1,251 votes.
Deemed one of the many hotly-contested seats in this year's general election, it seems that the PNM has the edge over the Government.
The latest poll conducted in San Fernando West by GML's Louis Bertrand of H.H.B and Associates showed incumbent MP Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan had a 60 per cent unfavourable rating, which senior political analyst Winford James says could spell trouble for the Kamla Persad-Bissessar-led administration.
But can PNM candidate for San Fernando West Faris Al-Rawi bag a victory for his party?
Some detractors have viewed him as an "outsider", a resident of an upscale Port-of-Spain community who is disconnected from the needs of the constituents, especially the ordinary folk.
Other political gurus have said that because Al-Rawi is a third generation Parliamentarian–his mother Diane Seukeran served as PNM MP for San Fernando West and his grandfather Lionel Seukeran also served in Parliament under the Democratic Labour Party (DLP)–this could easily grant him some leverage.
But Al-Rawi, who turned 44 last Sunday, strongly defended his candidacy, saying as a citizen of T&T he had a right to contest any seat.
He also scoffed at claims he was not attuned to the pulse of San Fernando East, adding that he grew up "on the streets" of the southern city.
Al-Rawi said he was born at Victoria Nursing Home in Vistabella in San Fernando West and attended Grant Memorial Presbyterian School on Coffee Street, also in San Fernando West.
"I then attended Presentation College on Coffee Street in San Fernando West. I was a cub scout, scout and then venture scout in San Fernando West.
"I grew up on the streets of San Fernando West. I pushed box carts down Ruth Avenue almost every day as a child. I practised karate at Lion's Civic Centre in San Fernando West.
"I volunteered almost every spare moment that I had in my teenage years at the San Fernando General Hospital, the Naparima Bowl, the San Fernando Hill and many other charitable organisations and venues," the father of three detailed.
He added that as an attorney he also practised between Port-of-Spain and San Fernando.
He added: "Having been blessed with deep sustained roots in San Fernando I am ever conscious in choosing to give up my private life for public life that as the representative of San Fernando West, my calling and job will be to represent all that is San Fernando.
"It matters little where I sometimes rest my head. It matters more where I will spend my working time and energy for San Fernando West.
"I think it is safe to say that I can be judged on my public record. I love people and I love to work for people, be it in law or in political life.
"My work ethic will be, and the result of it for San Fernando West is, what is and what will be important in being considered as the next member of Parliament for San Fernando West," Al-Rawi added.
He calls himself Beard Man and he has a semi-permanent fixture
on High Street, San Fernando, selling leather handicraft.
Rebellion within the PNM?
Responding to critics saying there was growing discontentment and even "a rebellion" within the party due to the booting out of certain candidates, including Donna Cox and Amery Brown, during the screening process, Al-Rawi was dismissive.
"Our detractors will have a lot to say about us. They have nothing to equal us in terms of transparency and involvement in the process of our nomination and screening.
"No other political party can even come close to what we engage in and how we implement the constitution of the PNM.
"Have you ever heard of a UNC or COP or NJAC screening of the type that we demonstrate every election, every time?" Al-Rawi questioned.
Criticism was also thrown at Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley who has been accused of being too high-handed in the selection process of candidates.
But Al-Rawi said that was not the case. He noted that Rowley was obliged to observe the PNM's constitution.
"He has no casting vote in the screening committee and has just the one vote given to him. This was not always so.
"It was through Dr Rowley's own advocacy that the PNM removed its political leader's casting and controlling vote in the screening of candidates.
"As an officer of the PNM I serve as a member of the screening committee. I can assure you that it is the committee alone, as a committee of which Dr Rowley is only one member, that selects candidates who have been screened," Al-Rawi added.
Up for the challenge
Born an Iraqi of Trinidadian parentage, Al-Rawi also shot back at detractors who accused him of relying on his mother's political lineage to win the seat.
He said: "In T&T I am proud to be the son of my mother and the grandson of my maternal grandparents, all of whom were actively involved in service to the people.
"In Iraq I am equally proud to be the son of my father and the grandson of my paternal grandparents who were also deeply involved in service to the people.
"I believe that I have spent good time training in and outside of my family experiences. Conscientiousness and morality are often best learned at home.
"I believe that I can stand on my own record as an advocate for the people and as a very hard worker. San Fernando is a city of families.
"The greatest support that I have in San Fernando is beyond my own blood family and it's the support of the PNM family as I have had the honour of walking the roads with two immediate past members of Parliament and all members of the present and past San Fernando City Corporation."
Saying he also respected his opponents, Al-Rawi, in the same breath, expressed confidence that those who were not previously supporters of the PNM were now willing to lend support.
Asked why he was not chosen by the PNM to instead represent another seat, for instance Chaguanas East or West, Al-Rawi said he "wanted the hardest fight of all the marginals" in the general election and therefore offered himself for San Fernando West.
"I have been the recipient of the PNM's faith and goodwill in front line political service in the Senate for the last five years.
"I owe it to party and country to take on the hard fight. I do so with great pleasure. I am a karateka and have practised for many years.
"My father and my family members are all martial artists. Prescriptions aside, I and we love a great fight."
Development key for Sando West
San Fernando West, Al-Rawi said, was one which faced gross neglect. And what is he offering?
He said the PNM would be detailing and publishing its constituency plan soon, adding it was eagerly awaited by the people and "opponents."
He added: "I have been working my constituency for months now and I am intimately aware of the woes and traumas of the people of San Fernando West.
"They have suffered and can't see or even recognise a single cent of the $350 billion-plus spent by this PP Government.
"They know what the UNC and COP have not given them. Among other deliverable, the people can expect a local government reform of deep significance.
"The vast majority of issues in San Fernando as a whole, and indeed in T&T, are when stripped down, are essentially issues of local government delivery," Al-Rawi said.
He said he was also committed to ensure residents of the constituency received the development and sustainability they needed and deserved.
"As a strong advocate I will fight for these deliverables in and outside of the PNM. My focus is not on the next election but the one after and the period of service in between," he added.