Paray stands his ground vs growing UNC criticism

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Member of Parliament for Mayaro Rushton Paray speaks during a press conference at the Couva Chamber of Commerce Hall. – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

MAYARO MP Rushton Paray feels vindicated that he has taken the right decision to publicly call for internal elections to be held in the UNC and warn that the party could lose next year’s general election if it does not hold those elections.

Paray made that statement on Sunday in the face of growing opposition to his position from his parliamentary colleagues and their support for Opposition Leader and UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

At a news conference in Couva on Friday, Paray called for the party to hold its elections. He said he was not afraid about becoming an outcast within the UNC for taking that stand. The party is constitutionally due to hold elections for all posts on its national executive (Natex) in June, with the exception of political leader.

Asked if he believed he made the right decision, Paray said, “Absolutely. As an ordinary member of the party which holds the tenets of democracy at the highest level. This internal election is a constitutional mandate. Staying silent on the matter was never an option.“

Asked if he had received support from inside and outside of the party, Paray said, “While the support from outside is extremely high and welcoming, the overwhelming support from the ordinary members is what propelled the press briefing last Friday.” He added, “There is a loud cry from the ordinary membership that all is not right, and we must be prepared to bring the necessary changes to fight the PNM for government in 2025.”

Ordinary UNC members, Paray continued, are concerned that the party’s organs are not functioning. “Party groups, constituency executives, community councils, women and youth arms have collectively collapsed. The current national executive (chaired by Persad-Bissessar) have presided over this collapse and the ordinary membership want an opportunity via the party constitution to remedy that situation.”

Paray has no fear of not being selected as a UNC candidate in the next general election. “This was never about me. This call is about the ordinary members of our party having a voice in the decision-making process of the party.”

Paray was confident that no one in the UNC would be vindictive towards him in any way “when the time comes to deny me an opportunity to continue serving the people of Mayaro.”

Should he lose in any party internal election or not be selected to contest any seat for the UNC in next year’s general election, Paray said he would not leave the UNC and join any other political party. “I will remain an ordinary member and continue the pursuit for a stronger UNC. A stronger UNC is a stronger Trinidad and Tobago.”

Paray bore no ill will against any of his UNC parliamentary colleagues for supporting Persad-Bissessar. “This is democracy at its finest. I will defend my colleagues’ right to support whomever and whatever they choose. I know they respect and value my rights in the democratic process of the UNC.”