A decade after bowing out of electoral politics, former prime minister Basdeo Panday has re-entered the political arena. This time, he is the campaign manager for his daughter Mickela’s Patriotic Front (PF) party in this year’s general election. At a news conference at the party’s office in Chaguanas on Thursday, Mickela announced the PF will contest all 41 seats in the election. Party sources said Panday (B) was keeping a promise he made to his daughter if she decided to face the polls.
On his role in the party, Mickela Panday smiled and said, “His role at this moment is, he is the campaign manager.”
She said Basdeo Panday has “enough experience at fighting elections to give us the best advice that we need.”
Mickela Panday said, “The great thing is, he is the campaign manager and when he advises us, he does not do so in the capacity as my father.”
She explained that advice comes from Basdeo Panday’s capacity as a former prime minister, opposition leader, trade union leader and lawyer. She said Basdeo Panday is “not dictating the pace” in the PF.
“The wonderful thing about it is, he allows us the option and opportunity to choose at the end of the day.” She added that Basdeo Panday has a team of people from his 1995-2001 government who are also helping. Also at the conference was former TT national footballer Kenwyne Jones. Mickela Panday said, “He is part of our team.”
She added that Jones’ role would be announced later. She also did not believe the party was too late in selecting election candidates.
Mickela Panday said she is not personally selecting candidates.
“I can’t have candidates in mind because that will be defeating the whole purpose of screening.” After claiming that other parties conduct “pappy show screenings,” Mickela Panday disclosed, “What I can tell you, is that I have been approached by a number of people who are interested in being candidates.”
Asked what constituency she will contest, replied, “I too will have to screen.”
She said, a vote for the PF is neither a wasted vote nor one that will will split another party’s votes. Mickela Panday said statistics from the Elections and Boundaries Commission and the Central Statistical Office show that less than half of the electorate votes for the PNM and the UNC. While the PF has spoken with other political parties, its leader said, “We will not be joining with anybody for joining sake.” She said the time for this was past and political coalitions had failed.
She said that if people are voting for one party because it is less corrupt than another, they are still “voting for corruption.” On the issue of campaign finance, Mickela Panday said, “We don’t have financiers.” She said it took the Party “almost a year to get a bank account” and it will be fully transparent regarding its finances.
She said the party will soon disclose its plans to deal with several national issues.
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