Moonilal: UNC MPs meeting with PNM operatives

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Dr Roodal Moonilal –

United National Congress (UNC) deputy political leader Dr Roodal Moonilal said MPs are meeting with People’s National Movement (PNM) operatives to destabilise the opposition party.

Dedicating significant time to the matter at a mid-week press conference on Wednesday at the party’s Mulchan Seuchan Road, Chaguanas head office, Moonilal accused the Mayaro MP of being one such infiltrator.

“We have information that the member for Mayaro has been in touch with operatives from the PNM in the recent past and there (is) a history of the PNM doing such things.”

Moonilal said the UNC and National Transformation Alliance secured some 190,000 votes (174,000 and 16,000 respectively) while the PNM received some 130,000 votes in the 2023 local government election.

With a general election due in just over a year, he said the political adversaries are now trying to destabilise the UNC by infiltrating it.

“That made the PNM very desperate. They are desperate now because the UNC contested fewer seats. “We contested 110 seats, the PNM 141 seats.”

Moonilal’s revelation comes as UNC MPs and members put shields up around political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar after Mayaro MP Rushton Paray last week called for the national executive elections to be held constitutionally due in June.

Paray later clarified that he was not challenging Persad-Bissessar’s leadership but rather calling for an election.

Backing the Mayaro MP’s call for elections are Tabaquite MP Anita Haynes-Alleyne and Cumuto/Manzanilla MP Dr Rai Ragbir, the latter who challenged Persad-Bissessar’s leadership.

Moonilal condemned Paray’s move to air the party’s dirty laundry in the public domain, especially when there was no decision to postpone the election to begin with.

“There has been no discussion or decision to postpone that election. Why do you call a press conference which will undermine, destabilise our movement, our surge forward in terms of dealing with the PNM.”

This, he said, was one of the fundamental differences between Paray’s call and one made by Persad-Bissessar in 2009 before taking over stewardship of the party from Basdeo Panday. He said then, the elections were postponed several times.

“In this case, nothing has been deemed postponed.”

He said the move would only serve to strengthen political opponents by destabilising the UNC. Recalling his unsuccessful 2015 bid for the UNC leadership, Moonilal said if Paray was concerned about the election or wanted to make a play for the helm, there was a better way to do so.

“The first day I made an announcement, I was very clear on what I was doing. I called a press conference and announced only when an election was called. I never announced it before. I never campaigned that way before. I did not want to undermine the party, destabilise the party.”

Additionally, he said Persad-Bissessar, deputy political leaders, and the chief whip had made at least two attempts to communicate with Paray in the Parliament without success.

He believes Paray is not the only one who may be in cahoots with the UNC’s political opponents.

“We have information, we are told credible information, that one or two members, MP members of the UNC in the Lower House have been having meetings with PNM operatives and businessmen linked to the PNM. What are these meetings about other than to undermine the UNC?”

When pressed by Newsday about how many other UNC members were in discussions with the PNM, Moonilal said: “I have information on one particular incident and case. I have no such information elsewhere but as I get it, I’d let you know.”

He warned his colleagues to be wary of these ploys by their political opponents.

“Don’t play footsie with the PNM. They will devour you. Don’t play games with them.”

Despite the ongoing public imbroglio between Paray and the party, Moonilal said the UNC is a strong and stable party for the 2025 general election. He said there will be a more rigorous screening of candidates for the election.

Nominations close in April and screening begins in May. After the press conference, Paray issued a statement that he would no longer be commenting on the internal elections process in the public domain.

“I maintain an open line of communication with all my colleagues. My contact information, including my mobile number and email address, remains unchanged, and I welcome direct dialogue at any time,” he said.

“I have advocated for the internal elections to proceed in accordance with our constitution, and I eagerly await the announcement of the election date. I reaffirm my steadfast loyalty and dedication to the United National Congress.”

Newsday was unable to get a comment from PNM public relations officer Faris Al Rawi on Moonilal’s claims of infiltration.