If the standoff in the PNM involving Diego Martin West MP Keith Rowley is not resolved constituents might have to ask the PNM leadership for a new candidate next election, PNM Diego Martin West activist James Thomas has said. And some people like Thomas, in the constituency, are already eyeing Port-of-Spain South MP Marlene McDonald or former attorney general Brigid Annisette-George to replace Rowley. Thomas was among PNM Diego Martin West supporters at yesterday's PNM convention at Chaguaramas Convention Centre. Diego Martin West had at least two buses of supporters from the main part of the constituency and others from Carenage. Rowley was not present. Contacted yesterday, Rowley declined to comment on the convention.
However, Thomas, from the Carenage area said, "We have nothing against our MP, we love him and care for him but we want him to rejoin the party. I worked hard for Dr Rowley, I've known him since 1987 when Mr Manning made him a deputy leader and the leadership gave him one of the safest seats in T&T to fight–Diego Martin West. He was very good, he had the whole area behind him. "But the vast majority of constituents are solidly behind the political leader Mr Manning. The so-called motion of no confidence in Mr Manning that some said Diego Martin West was thinking about, is not the consensus of the constituency. It is the consensus of one man and one man only–Dr Rowley."
Grassroots not consulted on Manning's motion
Thomas added: "No one got in touch with the grassroots level of the party support in the seat on this motion, so most of us were shocked and surprised at what we heard on this issue and we disagree with it totally. "We have been asking and begging Dr Rowley to deal with the situation as this is one party. We feel Dr Rowley should not be sitting where he is sitting in the Parliament as we voted for him to be in the Government. Every time he speaks the Opposition applauds. We didn't vote for that.
"We spoke to Dr Rowley at a constituency meeting two Thursdays ago and we told him that the party is greater than him and he should use his good office and come back to where he belongs. "And if he did not, we may have no alternative but to tell the party leadership to get us a new candidate when elections are held." Thomas said Rowley did not respond to the view. "We would applaud Dr Rowley if he gets up and supports the Prime Minister and the Government when (UNC leader) Kamla (Persad-Bissessar) raises her motion of no confidence in the leader. "Well said!" interjected a group of PNM women who were standing behind listening to Thomas.
Rowley's issue weakens constituency
The constituent said the only time Diego Martin West went against the PNM was in 1986. He said the party was stronger in the area, but the issue concerning Rowley had caused divisions. "The only thing to bring it back is if he comes back and behaves. And if he does not, we have been looking at two women for the seat if that becomes necessary." Thomas said he wrote Annisette-George last October asking about the possibility. He said she lives in the constituency and belongs to a party group. Thomas said she responded. "Time will tell." On Rowley standing up for national issues, he said, "We have no problem with his handling national issues, but he must remember that it is not the national community that put him in Parliament."
His view is not that of entire area
The constituency's executive chairman, Susan Wong said James was free to express his views but they were not those of the entire area. She said she knew James from the Carenage area. Wong said, "We are PNM at the end of the day and we want the best for the party."