Backing Bas …or Ramesh

Basdeo Panday, Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj

Basdeo Panday, Kamla Persad-Bissessar & Ramesh Maharaj

By Raffique Shah
December 20, 2009
trinidadandtobagonews.com/blog

As a Christmas gift to my colleague of many, many moons ago, I am backing Basdeo Panday for leadership of the UNC in the upcoming party elections. I have taken this decision, not after long and hard examination of the issues at stake, or any analysis of the future of UNC, but purely because Bas is a man. And this country of warped minds where people are whimsical in their outlooks, man must back man.

I know the first question people would ask, after recovering from shock, is if I am a member of the opposition party. I am not. I have never belonged to a political party since I parted ways with the ULF back in 1978. And I can proudly say I have never voted since the local government elections of 1977.

Although I was not enamoured of Bas even then, I backed the man to lead us in opposition because mankind had to back someone. So, too, did my many colleagues of that period-Weekes, Young, Nunez, Harrison, Lutchmedial, McLeod and many more. We all backed Bas, as he would confirm.

Ever since the split in the ULF, though, I became one of the man’s fiercest critics. I shall not be surprised if he still considers me ‘numero uno’ on the hate list he carries in his front pocket. But that is of no consequence in this current scenario. I am backing him because I am blasted vex. Vex because suddenly all kinds of women-those who hate the UNC, most of them diehard PNMites or ‘nowhereians’ like me, are crawling out of their holes to support Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

What’s their reasoning? She is a woman. Nothing more. ‘Her time has come,’ several of them are quoted as saying of their decision to support Kamla. ‘What we need is (sic) more women in leadership positions,’ another chimes. And this gem from yet another female leader: ‘It’s time a woman leads us into the next century!’

Didn’t we just enter a new century? Will Kamla be around to lead us into 2121? I suppose since she is a Hindu-Christian-Baptist-Orisha, Jah will find a way to keep her alive and kicking well into her 200th year. Miracles do happen, I suppose if one has faith in myriad deities.

None among them has advanced a valid reason why Kamla should be leader of the UNC. Is she the brightest, most articulate, people-oriented person in the party? Can she withstand the morality test ex-president Robinson applied when he chose the PNM’s Patrick Manning over Bas back in 2001? Has she proved to be someone who would stand strong, as Bas would say, on matters of principle?

Anyone with a modicum of common sense would answer with a resounding, ‘No!’ Did she not bow to Bas’ every dictate? Is that a sign of strength? Yet they are backing her. And these are the same people who preach to us about ‘new politics’, about the failure of the ‘old system’ to deliver social and economic justice to all the people of this country. Look, ladies, give me a break. Little wonder you remain no more than the ‘rib’ of some man lurking behind you, victim of abuse that you cover up with mucho make-up.

And don’t you dare brand me a male chauvinist pig! Throughout my life I have displayed the greatest respect for women-once they, in turn, show self-respect and respect for me. I have argued, though, that much of the abuse women have suffered has been self-inflicted. I mean this in the sense that while they portray themselves as gender-conscious and in control of their lives, even advising their ‘sistas’ to stand firm, they bow to abusive men in the privacy of their homes and sometimes in public places.

But back to the UNC internal elections: I don’t know that it matters a fig who wins or who loses. I expect the party to fragment like a Mills 36 hand-grenade shortly after its internal elections. If my man Bas does not win, he will walk with his diehards and mash up yet another party. If Kamla fails in her bid to become the first woman to lead a party, she will be a footnote in history. And if Ramesh Maharaj’s 50th bid to become leader of the main opposition fails, then ‘senior’ might as well take a permanent cruise around the world enjoy life.

For all the talk about the UNC being the most democratic party in the world, the aftermath of these elections may well prove this mantra prophetic.

It’s democratic to the extent that every supporter will go his merry way bringing an end to a charade that’s worse than the PNM’s greatness and its immortality (‘magnum est PNM et prevalabit’). Political analysts know that the PNM prevails only as a one-eyed king in the land of the blind.

Come what may, I am backing Bas. Here I ask that tireless campaigner for people’s rights, Anand Ramlogan, to join with me. He admitted during the last elections that he has experience, having once backed Ramesh with severe consequences. Join me, Anand. Let us both back Bas. Or Ramesh again, if you feel like it.

www.trinidadandtobagonews.com/blog/?p=2121

9 Responses to “Backing Bas …or Ramesh”


  • I always enjoy reading your comments but I must tell you that I am very disappointed in this one. Were you drunk when you wrote this article? Panday in my book is one of the most hated persons in Trinidad and I am one of the front line persons that hates him because he is power hungry,nasty minded and all the people he killed politically like yourself.

  • Raf, if you are indeed drunk I dont smell it, and thats good news considering we now have the breathalyzer. I mean you are on point, may I indicate that I support Kamla eh, but not for the reasons many are. However I get your point, hence my comfort in the fact that I dont have a vote in this election. I do however believe taht this election has an important roll in the future governance of our country and I am sure you could figure out why, considering you are sober. Panday has the qualities of which you asked if Kamla has, but I am not sure that could be of any benefit to us, for him definitely. But this election should not be based on what is good for Bas, rather what is good for the country. The PNM “prevails only as a one-eyed king in the land of the blind.” We the elctorate must look at issues far beyound our little box (blind loyalty) and understand that we have a future generation to provide for.

  • Randy Harnarinesingh

    Kamla’a candidacy has fueled the dormant flames of sexism that were patiently waiting to show it’s ugly face. Consigned to the back of waiting line by the less attractive, but more ubiquitous prejudgices of racism and agism, sexism can now take the position it was wrongfully denied: the forefront of public opinion.

    I agree with the many Kamla supporters when they say she is the best person to lead the UNC. However, I disagree with those who, instead of examining the issue at hand in a holistic manner, throw their support behind Kamla solely because she is a woman. Their battle cry is loud and proud: “Is woman time now”. There is hardly a difference between this sentiment and two others: “Massa day done” and “Is indian time now”. The former is attributed to the late Dr. Eric Williams and the latter is attributed to racist Indians post 1995 GE.

    These supporters make the UNC’s internal election look like a hollow affirmative-action exercise. Consequently, they also do Kamla a grave disservice by showing their faces in public for it has the ability to turn this into a gender war. Some will say that this is better than a race war. However, the Trinidadian citizenry must not be content to jump from one prejudgice to the next as if it were the shinier Carnival truck with better music.

    I am happy that one Journalist has the testicular fortitude to treat with the issue, even though I don’t fully agree with his reasoning.

  • But what about Ramesh Raff? Why have you ignored him and go home to Bas? Tell us Raff what is the story?

  • Once more excellent work here Uncle Shah. It is perhaps one of the most honest piece of journalism , and authentic analysis of our country’s politics , I have seen for quite some time. His comment that the PNM “prevails only as a one-eyed king in the land of the blind,”hits the nail on the head as to the problem that prevails. In the absence of a viable alternative Opposition then “you take what you get.” Therefore, the problems that plagues our country must not only be leveled at the government of the day,but the inflexible , clueless, and inept leaders that control the fortunes of this party. Which is more comical and or implausible, turning water into wine, attempting to place square pegs into round holes, or putting old wine into new /old bottles?

  • MAY THE BEST PERSON WIN FOR COUNTRY

  • Perhaps you and other party supporters should demand that the best candidate be placed on the slate, in the interest of the country as claimed. Since I am absolutely certain , that you and similar die hard fanatics are too scared to demand meaningful change, get use to the idea of PNM until 2095 Ian.

  • I’s very, very, very, interesting and unusual to see you NOT COMMENT on the devastation your buddy (PANDAY) received and the humiliation he’s still receiving by the landslide victory by someone he referred to as a DRUNK. Even though you regard BAS in high esteem, Shouldn’t you be fair (as I know you can be) and give some praise and appreciation to the newly elected UNC leader and soon to be new Oposition Leader? Since the embrassment of your BUDDY, I’ve been reading your column for your comment, but I’m seeing commentary after commentary only about HAITI. You wrote about HAITI 5 times since. NOT once, about Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Is there some hidden issue you don’t like about her winning and leadership? We are all awaiting your comment.

  • You have no understanding of the mind of Raffique Shah, nor are you able to read, or at least comprehend what you read.

    “But back to the UNC internal elections: I don’t know that it matters a fig who wins or who loses. I expect the party to fragment like a Mills 36 hand-grenade shortly after its internal elections. If my man Bas does not win, he will walk with his diehards and mash up yet another party. If Kamla fails in her bid to become the first woman to lead a party, she will be a footnote in history. And if Ramesh Maharaj’s 50th bid to become leader of the main opposition fails, then ’senior’ might as well take a permanent cruise around the world enjoy life.”

    The man has already predicted what we see unfolding before our very eyes. What good would it do if he were to further share his foresight with us? We have no influence on the future of the UNC. The votes have been cast and I find myself in a place I despise, in the hands of fate.

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