Larry Lalla: UNC was made for government

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The Rushton Paray-led United Patriots slate of candidates for the UNC’s internal elections on June 15. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

LATE prime minister and founder of the United National Congress Basdeo Panday featured prominently at the May 25 launch of the Rushton Paray-led United Patriots slate of candidates for the party’s internal elections in June.

Using Panday’s clasped praying hands as its symbol, team Patriots launched its slate on what would have been the Panday’s 91st birthday at Signature Hall, Chaguanas.

Attorney Larry Lalla, SC, who is contesting the post of chairman, said Panday founded the UNC to be a party in government, not in opposition where it has remained for the last nine years.

He said Panday stepped out of his comfort zone and took his support base in the sugar and oil belts into government. He said the United Patriots aim to do the same.

Nominations closed on May 25 for 17 positions in the UNC’s national executive election on June 15. A total of 36 submitted nominations, according to a release from the party’s Election Management Committee.

The committee, headed by attorney Darrell Allahar, said it would consider the nominations and inform candidates if they were “validly nominated” by June 3.

The Team Star slate, supported by UNC leader Persad-Bissessar, will be announced on May 27.

Lalla said the real stars in the internal election were MPs Paray, Dinesh Rambally, Rai Ragbir, Anita Haynes-Alleyne and Rodney Charles.

“The five points of the star are here with us. Those are the most brilliant points of the star. Think about what they did and why they did it.

“Just as Panday, in move a of great sacrifice, separated from former prime minister Arthur NR Robinson and the National Alliance for Reconstruction, because he felt that the talent and ambition of his support base was being stifled, so too these five have separated from thinking and weakness that has been keeping us in opposition.

“In doing so they have taken a great risk, but they have taken that risk for the members of the party and for the survival of the party…

“Panday truly believed that a strong UNC was required for there to be a stronger Trinidad and Tobago,” Lalla said.

He said the country bought into Panday’s belief and his philosophy to elevate the country by giving it a hand up rather than a handout.

“Giving people dignity by providing opportunities for jobs, giving them a way to build their homes and families, providing opportunities for them to educate their children so that the children could rise higher than their parents, and giving businessmen opportunities to build and grow their businesses and create more jobs.”

He said there was a need to return to those days.

“The raison d’etre of the UNC was to be in government. UNC is a government party. The UNC is not an opposition party.”

He also charged there were some who “are hell bent on remaining in opposition or are unable to transition into government.

“That is the only thing that could explain why certain things have been happening in the party and why the party has been constantly failing in the last nine years.

“It explains why persons are recruited into the party and put into office in the party, not firstly on merit and ability, but based on the singular, mandatory requirement of loyalty to personality.

“It explains why the party is not being made its most attractive to the national community.

“You need a NATEX (national executive) that is attractive to the national community and that can take you into government.”

Lalla scoffed at the Stars’ slogan, UNC and Proud, wondering if they were proud of the state the party was in, especially when after 35 years the UNC had no place to call home.

“Our businessmen and women, big and small, from the man selling tomatoes at the roadside to the hardware owner, are being faced with tax demands by gangs that threaten to maim and kill or burn premises if the tax is not paid.”

He said the Stars could not be proud when the Prime Minister has made Trinidad and Tobago “into a virtual dictatorship where the government is able to do as it pleases, because the perception is that there is no credible opposition to stand up to the government.”

Team United Patriots includes Lalla, who is vying for the post of chairman; Paray, Haynes and Ragbir for the post of deputy political leader; Germaine Abdulla (deputy chairman), Dr Curtis Mancoon (treasurer); Kiel Taklslsingh (policy and strategy officer); William Archie (elections officer); Shanta Devi Seepersad (education officer); Jason Ali (research officer); Henry Awong (party organiser); Deochand Ramjit Singh (international relations officer); and Ricky Shanklin, Roshan Ali, Jarzinho Rigsby, Imran Mohammed and Chinelle Roberts as regional representatives.