Pandays booted out

(Trinidad Express) The final rites for the Panday name in respect of the United National Congress (UNC) were performed on Friday, as Mickela Panday and Subhas Panday, daughter and brother of UNC founding father Basdeo Panday, were both rejected by the party’s screening committee to contest the May 24 general election.

As the party celebrated its 21st birthday yesterday, UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar declared the names of 23 candidates at the Rienzi Complex, Couva.

In a surprise move, she also announced that Suruj Rambachan would contest the Tabaquite seat previously won by Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj.

Both Pandays had successfully contested the Oropouche West and Princes Town North constituency seats respectively in the 2007 general election.

On January 24, Basdeo Panday, who represented the people of Couva North in Parliament for over 30 years, was defeated by Persad-Bissessar in the internal party election. Since then he has cut ties with the party’s new executive and will not be contesting any seat under the UNC.

On Friday, it was announced that the new candidate for Couva North will be the young Ramona Ramdial, party elections officer. Therefore, should the UNC form the next government, not a single Panday would sit in the House of Representatives. Previously there were three.

Caroni Central MP Dr Hamza Rafeeq, Couva South MP Kelvin Ramnath and Maharaj will also no longer occupy seats in the House. In effect, all the people who had not worked with the new party executive were booted out.

Persad-Bissessar said this was not a plan to wipe out anyone.

“I was not of the view that there was any indication that we were on a mass wipeout. The only mass wipeout that we have is against Manning and his regime,” she said on Friday.

Should there be any backlash over the rejection of the Pandays, Persad-Bissessar said the party was prepared to face the consequences and the people would judge on May 24.

“The people will judge that on the 24th of May, when you make decisions politically you face the political consequences, and on the 24th of May the people will judge us for our actions and our decisions.

“I’ve gone forward after long deliberations by the screening committee and thereafter with the Executive. These decisions were not taken lightly, they were not taken overnight and they were taken in the fullness of all of the circumstances and knowing that when we get into government, that we must be able to hold a government together and that was the team that was chosen, as you see them here, to hold that government together,” she said.

Under the coalition agreement, the UNC will field 23 candidates, COP ten, NJAC four, Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) two and Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) two in the May 24 general election.

Asked specifically why the Pandays were not successful as candidates, Persad-Bissessar said, “The screening committee was not of the view that the given persons should be the candidate; they chose the candidate they felt was best able to represent the constituency.”

She said in time the hurt would disappear.

“I believe at the end of the day while there may be persons hurt, that personal hurt will pass and will heal to the greater good, which is for us to work together to improve the quality of life of all the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. So we have a team that reflects, in my respectful view, the rainbow that is Trinidad and Tobago,” she said.

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