Former People's National Movement (PNM) chairman Franklin Khan is the man tipped to become the new political leader of the party.Sunday Guardian has learnt that plans are afoot in the party to challenge Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley's leadership when the party holds it annual special convention in 2011.
Since the party's formation in 1956 it is the first time since the convention has been postponed because of the dwindling support in membership.Several members of the general council are quietly planning to move a no-confidence motion against Rowley.
If this happens, the party's executive would be called to order at the special convention which is the highest order of the party and members of the general council, central executive and delegates from all 41 constituencies would vote for a new leader.As political leader, Rowley, who recently underwent surgery, has been given a five-year term to serve.
Plans to woo East Indian support
Top party sources said while former prime minister, Patrick Manning is being eyed as the man to take back control of the party, Khan has the support of the PNM people.In fact, top party sources further revealed that if Khan had not been hauled before the court on corruption charges which he has been recently cleared of, the former Works and Transport minister was seen as the next best man to lead the party.
"There were always plans for him in the party but the unexpected happened," a party source revealed.Sources said while the electorate was wary of Manning, a strategy is being planned where Khan and Manning may end up working alongside each other.All of this, the Sunday Guardian understands, has been orchestrated since the Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard's decision to drop the charges against Khan.
"Khan has always won the support of many. He knows what the political ring is about. From the moment he was cleared of the charges a decision was quietly taken that he would be the best man to lead the party."Khan, top party sources revealed, is also being seen as the key person to woo East Indian support back to the party.
"We have lost almost all our support and the East Indian factor is very crucial to any party. We are looking at the best way forward for the party and tough decisions would have to be made."
Petition to overthrow Rowley
Reliable sources further revealed to Sunday Guardian that a petition is expected to be circulated to members to sign in an effort to remove Rowley, who some supporters say is not "a people's person" and who has not been able to pull the party together.
Sources said Manning's decision to remain silent for six months was a brilliant move from an experienced politician. He then launched out with a stinging contribution in Parliament against Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar's private dwelling house in south Trinidad. "He is not going to give up. Manning is an experienced politician," a source added.
Executive to meet Khan
However, Sunday Guardian understands some members of the executive are expected to meet with Khan before he leaves the country next month.
"PNM people are known to close ranks when they have to. There is no question that Manning has made mistakes... his time to lead is over but he is an experienced politician and can be an asset to the party. Quite frankly, people are disappointed with Rowley.
He has not met the expectations of the people, a source said. "It is going to be hard fight but we are not satisfied with what is going on," another source added.Several attempts to contact Rowley and Khan proved futile.
Former PNM PRO denies any knowledge of plot.Contacted, former public relations officer Jerry Narace distanced himself from the plot.An extremely jovial Narace said: "I am out of the country. I have absolutely no knowledge of what you are talking about but I want to wish everybody well; former prime minister Patrick Manning, Dr Rowley and Mr Khan, even the new Prime Minister and in extension may I wish all a happy holiday."