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Who will lose in Chaguanas west?

Saturday, July 13, 2013
Chaguanas West By-Election

With the usual Parliamentary “battleground” prorogued until August 2, the forum for fight over the next couple weeks is now Chaguanas West. And clearly a battleground after last week Friday’s political soap opera of Jack Warner launching his ILP on two television stations while his former leader simultaneously expelled him from the UNC on a third. Accompanied on both sides by anger, warnings, chest thumping plus psychlogical and other manipulation.


Warner is now being described by PP by the N-word (neemakaharam, that is). Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has fallen in his eyes (to “liar” status) and PNM leader Keith Rowley stands to benefit as PP and ILP both try to convince voters who did the other wrong, who only heeds the public at certain times and other revelations emerging in the wash—dirty linen and all—of the by election. Of the six running candidates, that trio has the most at stake in what will clearly be a tight race.


Governing PP naturally has the most to lose if candidate Kadijah Ameen and moreso Persad-Bissessar fail to hold PP’s base. Warner’s move has derailed PP’s plans and according to how he fares on July 29, could permanently do so for the next 23 months of PP tenure. Tag-team style, Ameen has been talking projects and plans while the PM has taken on Warner, since the situation is basically between both of them.


Helming walkabouts and meetings, the election will test the level of 2010’s “Kamlamagic” and her unity magnet image in the face of Warner’s divisional tactics. The PM however spearheaded January’s Tobago House of Assembly poll where PP failed. It remains to unfold what sample Chaguanas West voters will give the PP to inform Local Government and 2015 plans and whether they’ll merely use the opportunity to vote for Warner or others because Persad-Bissessar hasn’t given them everything they wanted.


Indeed, the PM, looking grim at last Friday’s meeting (correctly) said, “This isn’t just about Chaguanas West, this is the most important election in T&T... this is about the future, this is the start.” By this Monday’s UNC Forum though, police confirmation that Rowley’s Emailgate was false may have buoyed PP slightly. Warner, hardly green in politics, however, seems to disregard the lessons of his political past of backing (then busting up) with politicians including Basdeo Panday and Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj. 


After learning the political ropes, he’s finally emerged solo, with usual showmanship likely to appeal to disenchanted PP supporters and/or a certain level of voter seeking alternatives beyond PNM. His large launching—obviously planned in advance—which was attended by supporters of some PP MPs who remain with the PM, will undoubtedly cause PP hierarchy concern regarding seepage of votes in seats across the board and affecting PP’s 29-seat national foothold.


PM’s adviser Gary Griffith yesterday dispelled rumours he planned linking with Warner later, saying, “I’ve no intention of joining Jack Warner.” Despite giving the PNM an edge to run up the middle of the race, Warner’s leadership surge, his battle with no less than PP’s boss and his bid to become the third force choice of those disenchanted with PP and PNM all place him in position to rival PNM’s Rowley as T&T’s second rising black leader. 


Since Warner and Rowley deny being in cahoots if Warner wins Chaguanas West, political rivalry between both could become an issue for Rowley since Warner not only holds appeal for the Afro Trini base which is PNM’s foundation, but Warner also has more national appeal than Rowley, something Rowley’s handlers have unsuccessfully tried to refine.


If politically successful in Chaguanas, West Warner will not only become PP’s worst nightmare, but as hot political property, the same might apply to PNM, unless Warner doubles back on his vow of not aligning with Rowley. PNMites yesterday confirmed undercurrents of internal concern continue following Rowley’s Emailgate imbroglio and his latest statements on this. Rowley goes walkabout in Chaguanas West on Monday, the same day UNC’s forum continues and Warner tours the area also.


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