There is a UNC, PNM standoff in the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation (SGRC) regarding UNC councillor Anil Maharaj who was charged by police last week.
The five PNM councillors in the UNC-controlled corporation want Maharaj to immediately resign as Cumuto/Tamana councillor after he only resigned as chairman of SGRC’s Finance, Planning and Allocation of Resources (FPAR) committee on Monday.
But the UNC is firm that Maharaj’s resignation from the committee is all that will occur. “PNM needs to look at its own business,” UNC’s public relations offcer Kirk Meighoo declared.
Maharaj is one of seven UNC councillors in SGRC.
He was charged last week with one count of alleged misbehaviour in public office. He appeared last week before a virtual court and pleaded not guilty to an allegation that between January 1 to June 20, 2021 he demanded $15,000 from a contractor at the corporation.
PNM councillors immediately called for Maharaj’s resignation as councillor and from the post of FPAR chairman. They warned of holding three no-confidence motions against Maharaj concerning both posts.
On Monday, at the corporation’s monthly Finance Meeting, Maharaj resigned from the FPAR committee–but didn’t quit as councillor.
Meighoo, via UNC statement, indicated Maharaj intends to robustly defend himself against the allegations and vindicate his name and reputation.
“However, in order to preserve the public confidence in the committee, which he has served dutifully, he considers this course of action (resigning as committee head) to be most prudent. Councillor Maharaj remains committed to his burgesses and the SGRC,”
But yesterday PNM councillor Simone Gill-Joseph told Guardian Media Ltd: “That resignation as a Committee Chairman is simply not good enough.”
She added: “It’s not by virtue of committee chairmanship that he’s a public officer. He has been charged for misbehaviour in public office, and that public office is that of councillor on the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation.
“We stand firm in our resolve councillor Maharaj must resign as Cumuto Tamana representative with immediate effect. If he refuses to do the right thing, we expect the leadership of his party and the chairman of the SGRC to demand his resignation. We’re not prepared to tolerate anything otherwise.”
”A choice must be made by the UNC: the people or councillor Maharaj. We expect his complete resignation or removal before the end of (yesterday). We’re monitoring this closely,’’
Corporation chairman Anil Juteram was unavailable . Meighoo responded to Guardian Media Ltd queries on PNM’s latest call:
“ Councillor Maharaj has done the honourable thing in a manner in which PNM members never have. Rather than meddling in UNC’s internal affairs, PNM needs to examine their even bigger messes and ‘cover-up’ policy. We have no need of advice from them.’’