The executive chairman of the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott) Calder Hart was given 24 hours to resign. The directive, Sunday Guardian learnt from a close relative, came from the hierarchy of the People's National Movement (PNM). Sources said it might have followed Friday's court ruling by Madam Mira Dean-Armorer against Udecott, making way for the Uff report to be made public. While the relative said a top brass PNM member gave the directive, it could not be confirmed from party sources whether Prime Minister Patrick Manning, who left for London hours after Hart's resignation yesterday, gave the instructions to step down. However, top party sources said such directives "can only come from the top."
A high-ranking member of the PNM said last night: "He had to go. He is an embarrassment to the PNM. I do not know all the facts at this time, but I heard he was given 24 hours to resign. "He has tarnished the PNM, and it is not looking good for the party at all. It was only a matter of time." Another long-standing member of the party said the move could be viewed as a damage control plan at a time when disenchantment within the party needed to be quelled. "This move is big time. For sure, the directive came from the top. Hart was a mover and a shaker. In fact, he had more weight than some politicians. "The Prime Minister has repeatedly said bring the evidence and let the chips fall where they may.
"He is on record as saying bring the evidence. If one is to compare the situation to Franklin Khan, no one is too high to let go," the source said. Saying that the Udecott fiasco tarnished the PNM, another top party source added that tough times called for tough decisions. "Politics calls for you to make decisions on the spot, and once there is a weight around the party's neck you have to chop. As a politician, if he has to cut ties to salvage the party he will cut. "While Hart might be the best on one side of the planet, the perception is he is a weight around the neck of the party. "The Prime Minister is on record as saying bring the evidence. The Uff report is going to be made public, and it could be the opening of a can of worms."
The source, however, said he was uncertain whether the move came too late. "People have allegations hanging over them and they are sent on suspension. For whatever reason, the Prime Minister stood at the side of Hart; but when water is more than flour you have to decide. "If the Prime Minister could swallow his pride and embrace the MP for Diego Martin West back into the Cabinet, it will show great statesmanship and craftsmanship. "Rowley has been vindicated yet another time. If the Prime Minister is bent on relying on evidence, Rowley should be brought back into the fold of the PNM. For a second time he has come out with broad shoulders; saying 'I told you so'."
Rowley, reached yesterday, said he had heard the rumour, but could not confirm it.