With whom should UNC join? (Part 2 of 3)

There is much discussion on whether the Opposition United National Congress (UNC) should contest the next general elections in Trinidad and Tobago alone or join with others in a coalition.

With whom should UNC join? (Part 2 of 3)
Photo : Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan

Would UNC accommodate COP?

There is much discussion on whether the Opposition United National Congress (UNC) should contest the next general elections in Trinidad and Tobago alone or join with others in a coalition.

UNC Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has said the UNC is strong enough to fight alone. I respectfully disagree with her position. Political history has shown that the UNC has won only one of four general elections it contested without an alliance.  

But if she accepts the recommendation, with whom should she join? Jack Warner and the Independent Liberal Party (ILP)? Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan and the Congress of the People (COP)? David Abdullah and his Movement for Social Justice (MSJ)? Phillip Alexander? Basdeo Basdeo and Mickela Panday? But in politics, anything goes, and politics makes strange bedfellows.

There is a chance for Jack to redeem himself by breathing life into his deceased ILP and publicly campaig solely against the PNM. This time the tables must be turned. He must be an ally to the UNC and a foe against the PNM.

For example, he must expose the conspiracy of the Christian cabal in the PNM just as he had ranted about a Hindu cabal in the People’s Partnership (PP) Government (2010-2015). The ILP would then be a political pressure party without seeking a constituency. It is the only way for Jack to pay for his bad karmic debts and be welcomed to return to the legendary UNC Ayodhya kingdom.


Carolyn’s Congress of the People

The COP was a rival and then a party partner with the Opposition UNC-led PP coalition in 2010. COP died with the departure of its founder and leader Winston Dookeran in 2011 but still haunts the land as a COrPse (to use a word-play from Panday).

In the 2015 general elections, COP contested eight (8) seats in an accommodation with the UNC, but secured only St. Augustine which has been a traditional UNC seat. Dr Bhoe Tewarie smelled the rat early and deserted the sinking COP ship by jumping into a yellow UNC T-shirt to successfully contest the safe UNC Caroni Central constituency.

Kamla is not likely to form a coalition with the COP and its current leader, Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan. Carolyn struts with her head held high in the air in quintessential Presbyterian pride which does not qualify her to be a politician. Carolyn can never walk in Kamla’s shoes and is likely to trip her in her steps to ascend to Prime Ministership again.

The COP needs the UNC more than the UNC needs COP, but the UNC needs COP nevertheless to partner in a political accommodation. COP’s elite Indians and its non-Indian followers would never join UNC because of its perception that the leadership of the Caroni-based party is corrupt and chamar [low caste Hindu].

COP’s past and current followers such as Gary Griffith, Nicole Dyer-Griffith, Gillian Lucky, Gerald Yetming, Robin Montano, Roy Augustus, Clyde Weatherhead, Dr. Anirudh Mahabir, Timothy Hamel-Smith, Patricia Cedeno-Metivier, Joe Pires, Sharon Gopaul-McNicolls, Michael Williams, Karen Bart-Alexander; Selby Wilson, Sheilah Solomon, Lincoln Douglas, Satu-Ann Ramcharan, Rodger Samuel, Joseph Theodore and Dr Paula Morgan would not want to have been/be tainted by joining a curried-coloured party.

Former COP members who joined the UNC such as Ganga Singh, Bhoe Tewarie, Manohar Ramsaran, Joseph Toney, Sahadeo Boondoo and Sadiq Baksh did so for their own political survival.


COP cannot win without UNC

COP cannot win a single seat on its own without an accommodation with the UNC because, like the ILP, it is a walking shadow of its former self that does not even have the strength to split votes. Its knife-and-fork Indian followers (to cite Panday again) who think that they are culturally superior to the ex-Caroni cane-cutting “backward coolies”, have no power to bargain with the UNC. They must take whatever seats they get to avoid their corpse being finally buried according to full Christian funerary rites. To cooperate with Kamla would at least see them becoming Board Directors, Ambassadors, Senators and Ministers in the next UNC-led government.

But COP’s cooperation with Kamla is unlikely because Leader Carolyn seems to be pompous. She is remembered for her outburst when Prime Minster Kamla demoted her from Minister of Energy to Minister of Public Administration in 2011. She told the media: “If it was up to me personally, I would not accept it …. if it was just up to me I would have been out” of the partnership (Express 26/6/11). Carolyn flared up again in 2014 when she was removed from the list of speakers for the party’s eighth anniversary celebration at Plaza de Montrose to accommodate the unexpected arrival of PM Kamla.

But the COP is not bad as David Abdullah’s MSJ. David would never share a stage with the Opposition UNC today. In 2012, he shared a platform with Dr Keith Rowley of the then Opposition PNM (People’s National Movement) in Port-of-Spain to protest against the PP Government.


Dr Mahabir is an anthropologist who has published 11 books.