While Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says nothing will distract her from seeking to serve the entire nation and not sectoral interest, Housing Minister Dr Moonilal said yesterday's protest by farmers outside the HDC was "a gross disrespect to the Prime Minister." Persad-Bissessar spoke in a telephone interview, hours after yesterday's protest action by farmers outside the Housing Development Corporation on George Street, Port-of-Spain. She had earlier presented successful applicants with keys to their housing units.
At the HDC yesterday Persad-Bissessar came face-to-face with protesters who demanded the removal of Housing and the Environment Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal. She said when she emerged from the HDC's offices on George Street, she saw the protesters and proceeded to greet them. She said they were chanting: "Moonilal must go! Moonilal must go." But Persad-Bissessar said she would not allow such incidents to shift her focus of serving the national community. "I will not be distracted," she stressed. "They may have cause for concern."Asked to comment on the protest action yesterday, the Prime Minister said she felt it could have been done differently.
She quickly added that she remained committed to looking at the bigger picture. Moonilal, also in a subsequent telephone interview, said yesterday's protest by farmers outside the HDC was "a gross disrespect to the Prime Minister." He said the farmers "hounded down the Prime Minister and that was in no way a good thing as dialogue is continuing on the matter." He said he wanted to condemn the protest by farmers. "Today is a forgettable day... it is a pity," Moonilal insisted. Persad-Bissessar said she was prepared to see the results of today's meeting between the farmers and Moonilal and Food Production Minister Vasant Bharath. Moonilal, in yesterday's interview, insisted that his spirit was not daunted by the anti-Moonilal chants yesterday.
"I get enormous strength in these circumstances and with collective Cabinet responsibility...this is not a matter for the faint-hearted," he said. He said politics was not a matter of being popular at all times. Moonilal said he would be attending today's meeting committed to do all he can to ensure the matter was resolved amicably. He stressed that the farmers should "take out their frustrations on me and not the Prime Minister."