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Bas: Door may be opened to PNM
The mudslinging between former national security minister Jack Warner and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is not only damaging the party but could possibly see the People’s National Movement (PNM) winning the Chaguanas West by-election, former UNC leader Basdeo Panday says. In a telephone interview with the T&T Guardian, Panday said the July 29 by-election could be closer than expected because of the strife between Persad-Bissessar and Warner.
He said a large amount of “hate-votes” could result from it which would give PNM candidate Avinash Maharaj the edge. “That can happen you know. If they (Warner and Persad-Bissessar) divide well enough and equally enough, yes the PNM can stand a chance,” Panday said. “People are getting confused and fed up. They may decide that they will vote for neither one of them and vote for the PNM instead. That is always a possibility in politics you know,” he added. He said the formation of Warner’s Independent Liberal Party (ILP) could change the political landscape of T&T.
He said Warner was already attracting larger crowds on the campaign trail than the United National Congress’ (UNC) candidate Khadijah Ameen. He added: “From all appearances and from what I read in the papers, Mr Warner has been attracting greater crowds than Mrs Persad-Bissessar and the indications are that it will be a very close fight. “I can only say that once you throw a pebble in a pond, there are going to be ripples. With Mr Warner forming a political party we have to look not only to the by-election but also to the local government election, as his party may contest the upcoming local government election. That is going to create a new dynamism in the elections.”
Panday, who founded the UNC in 1989, feels the image of the party is being damaged and that its leaders are taking advantage of supporters. However, he said, the accusations and defences being meted out by Warner and Persad-Bissessar were a clear indication that one or both of them were lying to the population. “They are being confused, they are being taken advantage of when they (politicians) use the media, they go on and say all kinds of things. People are confused and they don’t know what to do,” Panday said. “I think there is going to be a large amount of ‘hate-votes’ in this election. People are going to vote against something as much as they are going to vote for something,” he added.
Asked who would feel the brunt of electors’ anger, he said: “I really don’t know but the feeling I am getting on the ground is that there is great confusion. People are not sure what to do and they are not getting any leadership and guidance. “The credibility of the leaders have fallen to an all-time low that people don’t even believe what they say and that is bad for the country.” He added that the PM’s criticism of Warner showed a lack of consistency which now questioned her honesty. He said: “It certainly is a change of faith and a lack of consistency. These are the things that are needed in leadership, so one can never tell when the truth is being spoken. “One day it is this and another day it is that and all sort of things and that is bad for the country. As I said, there is no hope in all of this except there is constitutional reform.”
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