Partner in T&T govt coalition says Tourism Minister must resign

(Trinidad Express) Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar must fire Tourism Minister Chandresh Sharma if he does not resign, Congress of the People (COP) political leader Prakash Ramadhar said yesterday in a statement.
The call comes just five days after Persad-Bissessar fired Minister of the People Glenn Ramadharsingh following reports of his disorderly conduct aboard a Caribbean Airlines (CAL) flight and inappropriately touching flight attendant Ronelle Laidlow who filed an official complaint against him which is being investigated. Now another Minister—Sharma is in a web of controversy after a woman—Sacha Singh, managing director of AMS Biotech Security Concept and AmSure T&T Ltd, who claims to be Sharma’s ex-girlfriend, reported to officers of the St Joseph police station that he was violent against her. Singh, 30, alleged that Sharma, 54, hit her and pushed her down at the Grand Bazaar mall on March 12.
In a release, Ramadhar stated that he read the media reports against Sharma with “great disappointment” and the COP hopes that allegations of misconduct against him turn out to be untrue. Ramadhar stated that Sharma should step down until his name is cleared. “…The COP has been consistent in its position that where serious allegations are made against senior public officials, as in the case of former Minister Jack Warner, such persons should remove themselves from office until the allegations are properly investigated and resolved. Alternatively, they should be removed from office,” he stated. “Consequently, the COP calls on Minister Sharma to tender his resignation from the Cabinet until his name is cleared. In the absence of the Minister’s resignation, the COP expects that the Prime Minister, Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar, will move with alacrity, as she has done in the past, to preserve the integrity of her administration and of the institutions of State,” stated Ramadhar.
Contacted yesterday, Singh said Sharma owes her an apology. “I believe that Chandresh should publicly apologise for his outright assault against me,” said Singh. Singh alleged that she confronted Sharma with a woman with whom he allegedly had an affair and a 12-year-old child from that relationship whom he refused to maintain and when she did this, he became violent. Singh said she was surprised that the Prime Minister, as a woman herself has not spoken on the matter but she was confident that in time after all reports were received Persad-Bissessar would break her silence. Persad-Bissessar avoided questions from the media yesterday on the issue as she attended Shouter Baptist Celebrations in Maloney. The Prime Minister, following the opening of the Barbara Burke Early Childhood Education Centre remained mum even though questions about the incident were asked. She said she had another function to attend and was swept away by her entourage. Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh also avoided commenting on the controversy saying he preferred to not say anything with respect to his colleagues. Former Government Minister, now leader of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) Jack Warner who resigned from the People’s Partnership last year said he supports the COP’s call. “I am also of the view that he should resign or be fired and I tell you there are other issues which are worse than what you have read in the papers today which should be coming out in the Sunshine newspaper,” said Warner. He said the Prime Minister’s action will determine whether she will be inconsistent in dealing with her Ministers. “The Prime Minister has had the biggest Cabinet in the history of this country, she has had the highest number of dismissal of Ministers and therefore one more Minister would not change the track record because the fact is if the Minister has to go, he has to go,” said Warner.

Meanwhile, Secretary General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) Sat Maharaj who was vocal in his call for the resignation of Ramadharsingh said yesterday that Sharma’s case was different. Maharaj said domestic issues have existed in politics since the days of former Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams. “Politicians and their extra marital affairs and matters like these they sit on their own,” said Maharaj. He said Ramadharsingh had put a number of people at risk on the flight by his behaviour but Sharma’s issue was between him and his alleged lover. “The matter should take its course, we are talking about chalk and cheese. Chandresh is about twice the age of that woman, she must have known what she was getting into, I leave that for the court and the police to investigate,” said Maharaj. He said it was up to the Prime Minister to determine whether she would fire Sharma or not, but “this doesn’t affect us in our moral standing,”. Efforts to contact Sharma proved futile as calls to his cell phone went unanswered, Sharma’s wife Lynne, mother of his four children to whom he is still married is reported to be out of the country.

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