The United National Congress (UNC) is standing firmly behind Ravi Ratiram. According to senior party officials, Ratiram, the UNC’s Couva North candidate, is the victim of an online smear campaign in which serious allegations have been levelled against him.
Sources confirmed when the allegations first surfaced, Ratiram was questioned by senior party members including political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and he denied there was any truth to them.
Contacted for an official comment, the UNC’s Public Relations Officer Anita Haynes said it was a dangerous road that people were heading down.
"We are going to end up in a really dangerous position if we take things from anonymous sources on Facebook and make it real in news," she said.
"I really hope that is not the route all of us are going down."
Dismissing the claims, Haynes said those responsible wanted to detract from the serious work the party was doing, but would not succeed.
She described the entire attempt to discredit Ratiram as "craziness".
Haynes said the UNC was not about hiding and assured that "if there was anything to deal with, we will deal with it."
Questioned about the allegations on Friday, Kamla Persad-Bissessar said Ratiram was the party’s pick for Couva North and whoever was making allegations against him should take it to the police. Persad-Bissessar denied claims that attorney Rishi Tripathi had been tipped to replace Ratiram.
Speaking in Penal after she filed nominations papers, Persad-Bissessar said "I am the leader of this party, I am also the head of the party's screening committee. I have no knowledge of what you are speaking about. The candidate for Couva North is Ravi Ratiram. If there are allegations take it to the police. If you have any issues against him that are illegal, take it to the police."
Calls to Ratiram's cellphone went unanswered on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Persad-Bissessar said the UNC replaced its Lopinot/Bon Air West candidate Triston Bonterre III after "he came to the party and said he wanted to withdraw for personal reasons."
Prakash Williams, a retired secondary school principal and director at the Eastern Regional Health Authority replaced Bonterre.