“Call me RamKING Sharma,” Omardath Maraj, a joint winner of this year’s Chutney Soca Monarch, jokingly said as our interview was about to begin.
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PNM party group campaign launch delayed
To Preserve the Balisier, a new group seeking to challenge People’s National Movement (PNM) leader Dr Keith Rowley for the post of political leader, has delayed the launch of its campaign for national executive elections by one day. Spokesman for the group, Bose Sharma, said yesterday it was awaiting the announcement of the date before beginning its public campaign. The launch will now take place on Thursday, instead of tomorrow. It will take place in the D’Abadie/O’Meara constituency, the day after the Rowley-led executive holds its meeting there. Rowley was scheduled to meet with constituents of Port-of-Spain South at City Hall last night. General secretary of the PNM Ashton Ford said it was expected to be a question-and-answer session.
Sharma, co-ordinator of the group, said it had been mobilising “on the ground” and expected support, especially from the youth population. Sharma said his group was operating within the PNM and was not opposed to it. He expressed his gratitude to Rowley for introducing a system of one-man-one-vote in the PNM, as opposed to the former delegate system of electing an executive.
Sharma said it was important that there be no “coronation or anointing of any leader by an executive as it was necessary for whoever wins the election for political leader, be it Rowley or somebody else, to have the support of the largest membership of the PNM.” He said many, including members of the East Indian community, have complained about not feeling welcome in the party and that should not be, as all must feel welcome and have a voice in the PNM.
He said the group was hoping for “a proper election with proper rules, so whoever wins will be able to govern with full support.” Former Port-of-Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing, who previously expressed an interest in being elected leader of the party, said yesterday he was keeping his cards close to his chest at this time. Rowley, who was elected to replace former prime minister Patrick Manning, who led the party to a 29-12 defeat in May 2010, has said he would seek a fresh mandate to lead the party in executive elections to be held early this year. No date has been set for the internal election. Former Opposition Senator Pennelope Beckles-Robinson said yesterday she would be attending all the general meetings of the party in preparation for the general election in 2015. Rowley said Beckles-Robinson’s appointment as a senator was revoked last month as part of the PNM’s strategy for the general election next year.