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Ponder and Praise—a week for female leaders

Saturday, May 26, 2018

UNC MP Rudy Indarsingh did his utmost best in Parliament yesterday to ensure he got his point across.

“ … May 24 is an ominous day on the general election calendar,” Indarsingh hailed out to PNM’s Marlene McDonald.

She immediately threw off the reminder of when the UNC walloped the PNM in the May 24, 2010 polls.

“They worried! Mickela (Panday) coming for all of dem,” McDonald declared in the direction of UNC MP Ramona Ramdial.

“Oh, wow, now I feel better,” Ramdial replied sarcastically.

On the off chance PNM MPs didn’t quite get Indarsingh’s inference - though McDonald’s reply signalled she did - former prime minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar took to the debate floor plugging her government’s performance and panning the current Government’s economic management.

She stepped up in the wake of Thursday’s victory by university classmate Mia Mottley, who wiped out the Democratic Labour Party in Barbadian elections, on the same date in 2010 that Persad- Bissessar’s People’s Partnership beat the PNM in similarly strong fashion.

Mottley’s victory was a politically opportune opening for the UNC to raise Persad-Bissessar’s profile, harking back to her May 2010 victory - particularly since challenge to UNC may be brewing from a direction which assisted in birthing the UNC.

In a week that’s celebrated female leaders, from Wednesday’s regional Gender Equality Network gathering (where PNM minister Ayanna Webster-Roy was prophetic in noting recent increases in female MPs) to Mottley’s win, the UNC also has reason to ponder the political landscape more carefully.

This, following last Sunday’s moves to form a political party by attorney Mickela Panday, daughter of UNC founder Basdeo Panday.

It’s received little official UNC comment, thus curtailing traction and fuelling of the spotlight around Panday. But it’s obviously spotlighted Opposition UNC’s political fortunes.

That last Sunday’s forum by the Panday group ended in a decision to form a party wasn’t surprising. Signals were obvious prior to the meeting and attendees were called upon to decide - there and then.

Apart from the “Yes!” from some on the question of party-forming, other attendees who obviously came for assessment – on personal or professional behalf – were silent.

From the cross-section of young professionals present, certain businesspeople plus Panday senior’s cronies, it appeared some preparation was done.

But several seasoned politicians present volunteered advice more than actual support. If the group believes “It’s Time” (as slogans proclaimed) for Panday’s daughter to assume space in the political firmament, Sunday’s proceedings will convey that the effort will require much more than Panday’s blessing or name.

As adviser - and more high profile following last Sunday’s event - he’ll clearly be driving processes. How the group’s stated target - Yuppie millennials - meshes with the grassroots component he’s been identified with and is required for any national party, remains ahead. Along with whether that chosen target helps or hurts their chances.

Also: whether the group’s move to overshoot normal groundwork and jump out of the box, could mean overkill, remains to unfold.

Encouragement from leaders of some smaller parties present has raised speculation whether the group will become the mixed platform Panday attempted in 2007 via his UNC–Alliance with Jack Warner and NAR’s Carson Charles.

That spawned Persad-Bissessar’s well known “No Woman No Cry” response after she was shunted aside. In the absence of any such lament following the Panday factor, Persad-Bissessar’s profile has however heightened, including via yesterday’s Parliament spotlight.

Lacking track record and credentials as Panday’s group does, recent UNC actions, however, confirm the debut’s been a wake-up call for the Opposition, whose base is the obvious target for the group. Now. Or after 2020 according to general election results.

Government’s reply to Persad-Bissessar yesterday came from Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi – another veiled reference to UNC’s challenges - since he’s among PNM’s millennial support.

Government, hoping to capitalise on UNC haemorrhage from the Panday factor, may also be challenged by an entity being pursued – more vigorously since last Sunday – by suspended PNMite Harry Raghunanan. Hints are he’s working with “sidelined” Manning supporters.

“See what happen in Barbados? Same thing’ll happen here,” Raghunanan predicted yesterday.


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