Former PNCR Parliamentarian Ernest Elliot is expected to be sworn in to the National Assembly today as the replacement for Jaipaul Sharma, who resigned last week following comments made by Education Minister Priya Manickchand about his father’s statutory rape charges.
Opposition Leader David Granger, who is also leader of APNU, confirmed that Elliot would more than likely be sworn in today.
“He is the lead candidate, the party’s choice, he has to be extracted from the list. We are locked into the list,” Granger said yesterday.
He noted that the Sharma had represented the Region 4 area and as such it would be someone else representing that region who would have to replace him. He pointed out that they do not have a choice but to pick someone from the list who represents that region.
Meanwhile, Granger yesterday said that he was surprised by the resignation of Sharma, noting that APNU was seeking to have the issue resolved within the parliamentary process. The partnership was satisfied with the first ruling of Speaker Raphael Trotman who had initially banned the minister from speaking during the debates after she refused to apologise to Sharma. However, two days later Trotman reversed that decision saying that he was satisfied that the Minister meant no disrespect to Sharma and that even the APNU MP did not feel that he was the one being impugned, but rather his father.
Sharma has since refuted this stating that when he objected it was never his intention for Manickchand to apologise to his father but rather to him, since he was the only Sharma sitting in the House and it was not the first time she had made reference to his father’s legal troubles. The former parliamentarian, who resigned two days after the incident, said he should not be crucified for the alleged actions of his father.
Yesterday Granger noted that APNU’s Chief Whip Amna Ally had objected to the second ruling of the Speaker. He said he was surprised that Sharma took such extreme measures since the partnership had supported him from the inception. But he said the former parliamentarian has since explained the reason behind his decision which was he did not want to hurt the partnership.
Sharma had told Stabroek News that he felt Manickchand would not let up and that she wants to make him her toy and as such he signed so as not to hurt the party.
Granger said they had tried to keep Sharma in the House by speaking to him and even his father CN Sharma – the leader of the Justice For All Party (JFAP) which his son represented in Parliament – in an effort to have the matter ironed out.
Last Friday APNU members created a ruckus and ensured that Manickchand did not make her presentation in the House until she apologized and this forced to Speaker to adjourn the sitting. Asked if the same course of action would be taken today should the Minister again attempt to speak Granger said the partnership would wait to see what Trotman had to say.