Several frontline UNC MPs — including MP Fuad Khan— have said people are swinging back to UNC and they've knocked former party leader Basdeo Panday's bid to unify small parties into a political third force.
MPs Khan, Suruj Rambachan, Roodal Moonilal and Rudy Indarsingh, who have all worked with Panday before, expressed the views after Panday confirmed last week he'd been speaking with smaller parties about presenting a united political force as an alternative for voters disenchanted with the PNM and UNC.
Panday's proposed small parties should contest elections under a single banner so they can change the Constitution to allow proper participation. Representatievs from the COP, MSJ, Movement for National Development, New National Vision, DPTT and others said they'd spoken with Panday. Some are attending a meeting with him on Wednesday in Chaguanas.
But some former UNC colleagues aren't convinced.
Khan attended a 2018 function held by UNC's Ganga Singh where those present including Panday and Khan supported unity calls.
But Khan said yesterday, " Nothing happened on unity since then. I attended Fatima's fete last Saturday and many people told me they're completely disenchanted with the PNM and are supportive of UNC. So I think Mr Panday should find a way to broker arrangements with UNC's leader and mend the past for his daughter Mikela's sake to be able to return to the UNC which he built,"
"As a good father, his current effort may be to create a space for Mikela as he realises she hasn't created one for herself with her own party. But she needs to return to UNC, work and take her time to reach the top."
Rambachan added, "Mr Panday may be thinking of Malaysian leader Mahathir (bin Mohamed) who made a comeback in his 90s. But Mr Panday, a bright man, needs to move with the times. One must recognise the different roles one can play — he can be a very good mentor at this time and help UNC usher in a new generation of leaders. TT will be better served if he does this."
"His choice of where he goes is his, but UNC continues speaking of him with high esteem and respect. There's a thinking in the East-West corridor and marginal seats about UNC's role between 2010-15 in keeping the economy going. I believe people are beginning to swing back to UNC and are willing to allow another chance in office,"
Moonilal said, "Mr Panday's invitation won't be to people like me who are comfortable, proud UNC members. But I don't feel any disenchantment with UNC when I walk the malls, market and elsewhere. I was at Calypso Fiesta last Saturday— a forum perceived to be traditionally attended by PNMites— but the majority of people speaking to me were very supportive of UNC and UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar."
"However it's an election year and power is up for grabs - it's not unusual for people to emerge'. But most people are interested in power, not struggle . For almost five years we in UNC were on the frontlines fighting- at times alone- taking PNM's insults, jeers and threats and never heard from anyone. Given this 'disenchantment' they speak of, why didn't they all present Local Government election candidates?"
Indarsingh added: "The UNC got a lift in LG elections which encouraged us and we must continue to work. Wherever I go in St Augustine, Tunapuna, Barataria, people are saying they need to 'vote out PNM' , sending a signal they want UNC. I don't know if Mr Panday's action is meant to build momentum for his daughter's party which didn't get off the ground. But UNC's doing its work and people are accepting our initiatives,"
UNC's Tim Gopeesingh, declining comment, said he had to read Panday's statements. Singh, who'd hosted the 2018 "unity" function didn't answer calls. PNM officials said, "Mr Panday's free to do what he wants."