Contractor Emile Elias, PNM leader Keith Rowley, PNM Senator Fitzgerald Hinds and PP Minister Roodal Moonilal came in for stiff verbal blows from farmers and union leaders during yesterday's farmers' demonstration. Elias had criticised farmers' action while Hinds and the PNM had called for Agriculture Minister Vasant Bharath - who supported farmers - to be cut from the Cabinet for his action.
But speaking during the demonstration at Woodford Square, Agricultural Society of Trinidad and Tobago's (ASTT) president, Dhanoo Sookoo, said:
"Mr Elias' business is about housing and farmers' business is about growing food. "Mr Elias isn't standing in our way and the way of the people of this country to get local healthy food. The more we import food, the more unhealthy, so mind your business Mr Elias and we'll mind ours." OWTU president Ancel Roget, speaking at the conclusion of the march through the capital, slammed the PP Government.
He said the administration, like the UNC, felt it could "do what they want as they have farmers' support."
He added: "The same thing, like Patrick Manning... doing what he want to Laventille and so too (Roodal) Moonilal, assuming he can do what he wants since he had some farmers' support.
"This call by Hinds and Rowley to derail this struggle and all for Bharath's resignation... Hinds and Rowley have no moral authority to speak on any issue regarding farmers." Roget said: "If you (Rowley) and Hinds feel this is an opportunity for the PNM to do as the UNC and PP did - to ride the backs of farmers into power - think again. "The PNM and Moonilal's policy for housing is one and the same. Everyone sees that now." He said "many of them" in Government were "not doing what they are paid to do or were committed to PP's manifesto." Roget said: "Watch your advisers Madame Prime Minister. They advising you incorrectly. Big business advised Patrick Manning. Moonilal has gotten cocky and arrogant as somebody says he is heir apparent.
"But by his action last week Moonilal has disqualified himself from the job of PM. If he does this now, what will he do when he becomes prime minister? Walk on us?" Roget said Moonilal could no longer credibly be in the business of serving the people. BIGWU president, Vincent Cabrera, condemned Moonilal, whom he said had a labour and opposition background. Cabrera supported Bharath.ASTT's Sookoo praised Bharath, saying: "He's the only true minister in this Government. He has shown what new politics is about." Sookoo said farmers were sticking to their four demands when they meet with the ministers this afternoon. (GA)