All three sides are crying foul, as major conflict has broken out over the United National Congress' (UNC) voters' list. Acting chairman of the party, Vasant Bharath, estimated that a detailed exercise to regularise the list could take a fortnight. Bharath said a "huge list" of more than 100,000 members had emerged, while the true number of current financial supporters was just more than 30,000. "We don't want the party to be hijacked," he stated, in announcing that Members of Parliament had been mandated to seek to sanitise the voters' list. Bharath, who is contesting the chairmanship on Basdeo Panday's slate, said: "We need to go through the list to see if there are fictitious names." Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who is challenging Panday for leadership of the 20-year-old party, said she was "concerned" about the list, but declined further comment.
An insider in Persad-Bissessar's camp added, though, that the candidate was unable to see an updated members' list or completed application forms. "We are being told there is no plan to provide the full list," he said. He claimed that forms were being withheld from some applicants. Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, who is also contesting the leadership position, was equally upset, stating that he heard the list had been tampered with. Maharaj said that information suggested that some application forms could not be found. Further, he stated that the membership in certain constituencies represented by the UNC in Parliament numbered "a mere few hundred, while at others they numbered several thousand. There are major irregularities."
Panday was updated on the situation during an early morning strategy meeting of his team on Sunday, before he flew out for a medical check-up and Christmas vacation in England. Kelvin Ramnath, chairman of the membership committee, is heading the exercise of regularising the list. The Ramnath exercise was expected to take place at his Couva South office, some distance from Rienzi Complex. New applicants have to be considered by the party before they are permitted to cast their votes. Bharath said a membership list of more than 100,000 was more representative of when the UNC was in national office. The executive election is scheduled for Sunday, January 24; Nomination Day is Monday, January 11.