Former UNC frontliners Basdeo Panday, Jack Warner and Vasant Bharath should show they’re serious about unity in the party by attending Sunday’s UNC assembly, says UNC MP Fuad Khan.
“So that Singh and I aren’t the only ones making the call. I’m getting plenty of criticism from people thinking I’m trying to remove our leader and bring Mr Panday back, but that’s completely false,” Khan added yesterday.
Khan spoke on the eve of Sunday’s UNC assembly at Couva Multipurpose Hall where the party is expected to be put on an election footing and open calls for nominees.
Singh has been campaigning for unity with other groups, entities, organisations since a December function which former party jefes Panday, Warner and Bharath attended and echoed unity calls.
UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar subsequently said new faces are expected to be part of UNC and she wasn’t prepared to sleep with the devil (to remove PNM).
But after Singh recently indicated he’s submitted a resolution on the unity call for debate at Sunday’s assembly she said all are welcome in UNC but must have the same vision, mission and philosophy.
Khan, who’s seconded Singh’s resolution for the assembly, said he continues supporting it, But: “People who seem to be part of the membership have been criticising the call and me, particularly on radio.
Due to the public debate and emotion being generated, I expect Sunday’s assembly to have ‘fireworks’. However I’d like people to see the motion for what it is and stop feeling Ganga and I are working ‘underground’ to remove Mrs Persad- Bissessar and bring Bas back— that’s the worst comment I’ve heard being said about us. But that’s not so at all.”
“So I’m calling on Mr Panday, Jack, Vasant and others who were coalition members to be big-minded enough to attend Sunday’s assembly if they’re serious about unity. I hope they’ll attend so that it’ll show members it’s not just Ganga and I pushing for unity,”
“We’re only trying to bring all forces together so we can have a party of parties for elections where each is strong in their own right. Concepts need to be tried.
The mistakes we made in the past should be recognised. I’m not sure they have been but we need maturity in the politics. If we stay the same way, we’ll remain the same hoping only to best PNM. “
We’re hoping to get new people so hopefully, this will start a movement. If our motion is defeated on Sunday, it may have been only an ‘impossible dream’. But it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have been articulated. I hope we examine it objectively- not emotionally.”
Singh said he felt “the call was gaining momentum outside of the narrow party confines based on responses I’ve received. It’s clear people who aren’t party members want the leader to be a magnet for unity. Of course, I expect criticism but my job is to help persuade people of the righteousness of the unity call.”
Singh said he supported Khan’s call for Panday, Warner and Bharath to attend the assembly, “but one man with an idea is a majority— especially on an idea whose time has come.”
Warner said yesterday he wouldn’t attend. “I’m not ready yet. Let’s see what emerges from the assembly and I’ll discuss it with my Independent Liberal Party,” he added.
Panday and Bharath didn’t answer calls.
Reporter: Gail Alexander