Paray invited to 40 meetings by UNC groups in 6 months

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Mayaro MP Rushton Paray, left, and Naparima MP Rodney Charles at the San Fernando Yacht Club for a meeting organised by the UNC’s San Fernando West Constituency Group on Monday night. – Photo by Yvonne Webb

WHILE the UNC was having its regular Monday night meeting in Moruga/Tableland, a parallel private meeting of some UNC influencers was held simultaneously at the San Fernando Yacht Club.

Among the main speakers at the large gathering of UNC supporters at the Yacht Club, were sitting MPs Rushton Paray, Anita Haynes and Rodney Charles – now branded as “dissidents” having spoken out on the need for change within the party, starting with the holding of internal elections in June.

The private meeting was organised by the UNC’s San Fernando West constituency group.

Kriss Hosein, one of the organisers of the event, speaking at the yacht club, told the Newsday that having witnessed the public calls for restructuring of the party and calls for the leader to take her exit, the group was very concerned.

“San Fernando West is a marginal constituency. It is not a safe seat. We view the UNC as a vehicle for change in the country and as such, we have decided to be proactive, and called a meeting with some of these members, not ostracising them as seems to be the norm right now.

“Tonight, we really would like to ensure that our party does not implode, and we can have a productive conversation about democracy within the UNC and where do we go from here.”

Mayaro MP Paray denied the meeting signalled any intention of a splinter group or break-away faction or formation of any new political entity with colleagues Dinesh Rambally, Rai Ragbir and others.

Paray who has been disenchanted with the operation of the party for some time, has expressed an interest in challenging the leadership when that position is up for contest.

Paray said for the past six months, he had been invited to between 30 to 40 meetings all over the country by UNC members who agreed with him that the party should be recalibrated to adhere to the constitutionally mandated requirement of holding internal elections when due.

“UNC activists have been asking to have a chat with me, and tonight is no different.”

He clarified that he and his other outspoken colleagues, remain strong supporters of the UNC.

“I am a lifetime member of the UNC and I will continue to advocate on behalf of the party.”

Paray said he and other MPs would not remove themselves from under the control of “the whip” in Parliament, neither did he anticipate them being moved to the back bench.

“It does not matter where we sit, what matters is where we stand on issues.

“We have a parliamentary duty to represent the constituencies that we hold. That has nothing to do with internal party matters. “There is a clear line between what’s happening in the Parliament and what’s happening with our internal business. I try to keep that clearly defined.

“We continue to remain a strong force in the Parliament and we are going to debate on Friday, an administration of justice bill.

“The chief whip has spoken to all of us to prepare to speak as usual.”

Naparima MP Charles, who has already stated his intention to bow out of electoral politics, told Newsday he too was invited to the meeting to exchange ideas with people who had recognised the need for transformation of the politics of TT.

“I have always subscribed to the view that the time has come for a generational shift in the politics and in leadership.

“I have done what I had to do and I appeal to Dr Keith Rowley and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar who have done significantly well for TT, there is need for change. “