From Dr. Devant Maharaj
The passing of former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday marks the end of an era in the politics of Trinidad and Tobago, particularly the end of politics in the Indo-Trinidadian community, Opposition politics, and labor politics all rolled up in one.
Panday can perhaps be best described as a renaissance politician in the Trinidad context. Beloved by the common man, perhaps more so after when he was driven out of office by the same common man, Panday brought an intellectual depth and political philosophy to the United National Congress which he founded after leading the United Labor Front.
In Panday, the Indian presence was placed on the national stage with his use of Hindi terms and Indian music as well as a deep appreciation of the rural neglect the Indian community felt. Few could forget when Prime Minister Basdeo Panday recited the Hanuman Chalisa at Puja 2000 in Debe, a few that not even his counterparts in India could boast of. Now being Indian in the UNC is a curse.
Despite being rooted in rural Trinidad and Tobago Panday took the UNC on the East-West Corridor and Tobago something which the subsequent UNC leadership cannot do. The track record of economic growth and development under the Panday Administration remains a feat no subsequent administration can boast of. Panday like all politicians had human failures including the inability to manage the conflicts with UNC members Ramesh, Ralph, and Sudma which resulted in the downfall of the Panday Administration.
Much more can be said of the legacy of Basdeo Panday and no doubt many others will do just that, however one must caution against the crocodile tears of the current leadership of the UNC who had no space for the very founder of the party on whose back their rode into office and continue to milk at every opportunity. Panday was thrown out of the Rienzi Complex, Couva aided and abetted by the Trade Union he once led along with operatives of the political party whom he gave office.
The hypocritical tears of the UNC leadership will be forthcoming shortly as they will attempt to prostitute the passing of Panday for political points amongst Panday supporters. Those Pandayites will soon be told of how great Panday was by the leadership of the UNC who had no time or space for Panday, his brother or daughter in the very party he founded.
Dr. Devant Maharaj, PhD, MBA