A second long-time member of the United National Congress (UNC), Barataria MP Dr Fuad Khan, is bowing out of politics.
This follows the previous announcement by Tabaquite MP Dr Surujrattan Rambachan who said he was not seeking reelection. Who's next?
In an exclusive interview with Guardian Media, Khan on Thursday said he had had enough.
“I’ve had enough after 25 years, it is not an easy place to be. I have lapsed in my service to the constituency," he said.
Khan suggested that a younger person would have more energy to service the constituency.
He said he has been going full time with the role as an MP and doctor, and it was “difficult to ride two hard horses.”
Khan said a person must know when it is time to go and to make room for younger, more energetic representatives.
Concerning his relationship with the party, he said that everything was good and it was a personal decision.
Just months ago, in August, Rambachan announced his decision to retire from active politics after 30 years of service.
At a UNC meeting at the Gasparillo Secondary School, he said while he was privileged to serve he had internal squabbles within the party.
"I have had my battles with the leadership, with our political leader, with colleagues, but I have always tried to fight inside not in the public. I believe that conversations lead to conversion and that politics is still about the art of compromise without relinquishing with your essential life values. "
He said then that leaving office was inevitable.
"You must also be prepared to move on if the disagreements are beyond compromise. I want to assure you that my decision to redefine my role in the politics of my country and more particularly in the future of my party has nothing to do with disaffection or disappointments in my leader nor of any fundamental differences with my colleagues.”
In June of this year, there were rumours of a possible vote of no-confidence in Kamla Persad-Bissessar as the political leader of the UNC heading into the next general election, but those political fires were quickly put out by the last person to challenge her for the post, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal.
He reportedly said that "there would be no motion of no confidence in Kamla Persad-Bissessar, either as opposition leader or political leader or any leader…That matter cannot and does not arise. Persad-Bissessar indeed has the support of all MPs, notwithstanding any recent ripple.”
The talk of the motion arose after Chaguanas West MP Ganga Singh broke ranks and voted with the People’s National Movement (PNM) Government on the pension clause of the Miscellaneous Provisions Bill in Parliament.
After the vote, he told Guardian Media, "My conscience is clear. I'm anchored on principle. The UNC must stay true to the vision and principles by which it held Government in the past if it's to remain a true alternative to the present administration.”
Guardian Media sought to find out from MP Singh whether he will be offering up himself for re-election for the UNC but he said at this time he was “undecided.”
But the shape of the UNC is already changing with the emergence of younger faces like Anita Haynes, Sean Sobers, Saddam Hosein, Taharka Obika and Rishi Tripathi representing the party at the level of the Senate.
Contacted regarding the revelation by Fuad Khan, UNC Public Relations Officer Anita Haynes said she was unaware of his decision but could not say whether he had spoken to anyone else in the hierarchy of the party.
She said she wouldn’t consider Khan’s departure from electoral politics as a blow to the party because “choosing not to go back up for a seat does not mean that there isn’t a space for mentorship.”
She expressed confidence that the party can still strike the right balance of youth and experience in the Parliament even if more senior members decided to bow out as well.
“If your vision and the vision of the political party that you are a part of is to say we have to include more persons then certain people who would have had years of service would opt to make a gracious exit out of the parliamentary politics and make that space.”
She, however, made it clear that while there has been a call for new blood nobody has been “pushed out.”
She said the work of both Khan and Rambachan to the party and country cannot be understated.
Haynes said at this time she was unaware of any other members indicating intentions not to recontest seats in the 2020 election on behalf of the UNC.
See page A6—Fuad picks healthcare in front of politics