UNC United Patriots: We want Mickela, Gary

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Mayaro MP Rushton Paray, centre, speaks with attorneys Larry Lalla, SC, left, and Kiel Taklalsingh at the Couva Chamber of Commerce Hall on March 22. – Ayanna Kinsale

TEAM United Patriots brought its campaign ahead of the June 15 internal elections to a close on June 12 in Mayaro, with a call for the UNC to embrace those it ostracised and bring them back into the fold.

Attorney Larry Lalla, who is vying for the post of chairman in the UNC’s national executive (natex) elections, said reconciliation was the only way the party could stand a chance to become an alternative to the government now in office.

He said the UNC was defeated when it announced its slate of candidates for the 2015 and 2020 general elections.

He said the five MP’s who are being branded as dissidents, have stood up to the leadership of the UNC, in the interest of members and country.

“The present UNC is going down the wrong road and the UNC cannot win the next general election if we do not make fundamental changes.

“We want everybody on board. We want Mickela (Panday political leader of the Patriotic Front). We want Gary (Griffith, NTA’s Political Leader), we want Timothy Hamel-Smith (of the political entity, Hope) to come on board.

“I remember in the days of the UNC campaign of (the late founder) Basdeo Panday, he would always say, ‘In my father’s house there are many rooms. Come.

“What has happened to the party now? The leader stood up on a political platform a couple of nights ago and told off Gary. How is that to help us in the general election next year?

“This nonsense in the UNC must stop and it will stop on Saturday,” Lalla predicted.

Griffith, whose National Transformation Alliance (NTA) teamed up with the UNC in last year’s local government elections, has written to UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar about comments she made on the Star political platform on Monday, regarding his criticism of Jearlean John.

She called on him to leave John, a deputy political leader who is once more contesting the position, alone.

While Griffith is open to working with the party, he asserted that he would not be part of any “political domestic violence.”

The Patriots’ slate is using the clasped hands or praying hands which Panday usually held above his head in greetings as its symbol in Saturday’s election, as a tribute to the founder and return of his policies.

Patriots leader, Mayaro MP Rushton Paray, who is contesting one of the three deputy political leader posts, also endorsed the return of the “UNC’s big tent” conceptualised by Panday as a means of embracing all citizens.

“Our party needs a rescue act. We cannot rely on past victories or leaders who are symbols of a bygone era. We need a leadership that mobilises support across urban and rural communities alike. We need to revive the spirit of Mr Panday, who united varied members and supporters in a common purpose,” Paray said.

“We must become the big tent one again where all feel at home, focusing on unity, dedicated leadership, and rejecting the old politics of division.

“The times demand new ideas and new energy, and we must be ready to embrace change. We must unite to fight for the betterment of all of Tobago and Trinidad.

“The UNC must cease being the storehouse of a single person and become a robust marketplace of ideas.”

The Star and Patriots teams are each contesting all 17 positions now vacant in the UNC’s natex elections. The position of UNC political leader is not being contested in this election.

Paray has already indicated his intention to challenge the present leader for that position when it is due.

Voting will begin at 8 am and polls will close at 6 pm on June 15.

Some 77 polling venues have been registered for members to cast their votes.