Karma, Bas, not Kamla

By Raffique Shah
February 07, 2010

Basdeo PandayMost readers would interpret my headline as suggesting that UNC “founding father”, Basdeo Panday, is enjoying sweet chutney/soca music in keeping with the spirit of the Carnival season. For them, “Karma” is a music band whose lead singer, Ravi B, won the recent Chutney-Soca Monarch title. Ironically, Ravi’s winning song was titled “Ah Drinker”. Ravi was not referring to orange juice or WASA’s now-scarce potable water, but to the wanton abuse of alcohol.

Karma is a Sanskrit word that is broadly interpreted as one’s deeds in life – the good and the bad. My understanding is it’s the sum total of what one does, and at the end of one’s life – or coming close to it – one ends up with either a “plus” or a “minus”. I am no expert in Sanskrit or in Hindu beliefs (and those of other religions), although I have a general knowledge of most faiths. My understanding of Karma is that if, toward the closing chapter of one’s life, one ends up with goodness-deficiency you pay the penalty right here on earth, not in any after-life.

During his 36 years of active political life which began in earnest with the founding of the ULF in 1975/76, Panday has managed to fool far too many people. But this must be taken in the context of Trinidadians and Tobagonians being more foolish than most. Take the people of the depressed communities in and around Port of Spain. For generations they have blindly voted PNM. They deified Dr. Williams and accepted without question his successors George Chambers and Patrick Manning.

Yet some of the most depressing manifestations of poverty can be found in these very communities. In contrast, most of those in upscale enclaves who prosper, who can chase WASA policemen from their gated mansions and continue to waste water as they wish, support the PNM only as it suits their prospects to make more money. Mostly, they support the “PIP” — party-in-power.

Similarly, the mostly Indian communities south of the Caroni River supported Bas since he installed himself as the Indian leader in 1977/78. I shall not dwell on how the ULF came into being. Suffice it to say that Panday was not the father of that party. Had it not been for the presence of George Weekes, Joe Young, Shah, and hundreds of others who emerged from the 1970 Black Power revolution with the idealistic notion of building a multi-ethnic machine to bulldoze the PNM aside, the ULF might never have been born.

Bas used “victimhood” and played the race card in 1977 to seal his position as the new Indian leader, Bhadase Maharaj having died in 1971, and the shell-of-the DLP being no match for the ULF road-roller in the 1976 general elections. Having used the left-wing idealists to help cement his race-place, he proceeded to ditch us, consign us to the “political graveyard” as he boasted, and move on and up. It took him 20 years to trample over the “corpses” of too many hard-working unionists to name, and a number of well-intentioned politicians, before he tasted power.

That aphrodisiac, the perfect potion for those with a “weakness for sweetness”, revived his flagging fortunes. He went on a rampage. He wooded and won those who wanted to share in the honey-pot or power, only to ditch them as easily he discarded used toilet paper. More than that, he boasted of his omnipotence and heaped scorn on those who dared disagree with him. His imaginary “graveyard” was growing to Hitlerite proportions.

Forgetting his roots (except when it was convenient to stir the emotions of the stupid), ignoring the old people’s adage “every hog has his Saturday”, he snarled, bit, lashed out, cursed, abused and committed the gravest of sins against those who ran afoul of him.

Well, karma, or maybe that should read Kamla, finally caught up with him. And it was not on a Saturday, so maybe he is not a hog. I expected Persad-Bissessar to win the leadership race based on what I felt on the ground (Mr. Manning, take note!). But the margin of victory was so overwhelming, I didn’t realize the man who claimed political omnipotence would fall into the grave he had dug for others.

Had Kamla and Jack Warner lost those elections, they would not have seen another dawn from the house of the rising sun. He would have cast them into the latrine pit that very night. I wonder what he did with the bruising “victory speech” he must have written? Now that he has outlived his usefulness — if he ever had that — pipsqueaks like Harry Partap are peeing on him. What a fate for someone who is said to have made an “immense contribution to the country”, as his one remaining friend, Patrick Manning, said of him.

In what is still considered a most famous speech from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, I trumpet like Mark Anthony: “I have come to bury Bas, not to praise him; the evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones…”

I don’t know there is much to bury, what with his graveyard overflowing with the bones of others. Still, I respect the dead. Rest in peace, Bas.

8 thoughts on “Karma, Bas, not Kamla”

  1. Letter to President
    It appears that the country will have a new Leader of the Opposition, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, recently elected Political Leader of the United National Congress, by early next week, perhaps by Monday.

    Kamla’s rise and fall
    EVEN as more Opposition MPs supported the rise of newly-elected UNC leader, Siparia MP Kamla Persad- Bissessar to be Leader of the Opposition, sadly on Friday she fell badly in Parliament, fracturing her shoulder.

    Panday must adjust
    Dr Roodal Moonilal is a political survivor of sorts. Moonilal was the only member of the otherwise-decimated Basdeo Panday slate to be elected in the January 24 United National Congress executive election. Moonilal, Oropouche East Member of Parliament, was elected Deputy Political Leader. The Chairman of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee fielded relevant questions from the Sunday Guardian.

    Pitfalls on the way to unity
    Many are demanding change and assume that unity among opposition parties is a prerequisite to achieving it. There is, however, no agreement as to how this unity would be achieved, and under whose auspicies. The new Political Leader of the United National Congress (UNC) has appointed a committee to work out modalities for discussions with stakeholders which she hopes would lead to a political unity that is sustainable. The concern with sustainability is important. The Political Leader of Congress of the People (COP) also has a set of proposals to put on the table. Unity seems to be the only game in town.

    Feeling the sweetness
    In Trini parlance ‘sweetness’ is tangible enough to be felt. It is also descriptive of the female form and personality. This column is mostly about sweetness but it has a sweet and sour element because, while it would not be politically correct to refer to Kamla Persad-Bissesar as sweetness, her recent internal election victory is a sweet and sour dish. I will refer later to the sourness oozing out of Vasant Bharath, Tim Goopeesingh and Roodal Moonilal.

  2. So now you know Uncle Shah , why Buddah abandoned the principles of his old Hindu faith,in pursuit of a new way of life, and thus helped launch one of the most tolerant , and fastest growing religion in the world. If Panday , Casto , Mugabe ,Mubarak , Sudan,Iran ,and Saudi henchmen leaders , and any other unmentionables who lay claim to power can somehow recognize that nothing is permanent, we can have a much better world.
    All this pro elites Karma nonsense , Papal dogma ,leftist/capitalist mantra, and Islamic neo Mohammedan 12 century fixations , has resulted in some of the most blatant atrocities and evils ,known to mankind.
    This media hyped , much drawn out Mickey Mouse child play, is not Karma for political dinosaur Panday, as all it means is that Kamela – for all her screams to the contrary -is still not ‘culturally’ ready for prime time just yet, as she with all her political experience still believe that you can kiss the butt, and lovingly pull the tail of a wounded , Bengal tiger , and live to tell your great grand nieces, and nephews.
    Here is an SOS from the ‘unpaid political advisor,’ to Madame Kamela. This is not the way of the big boys and gals dear wise and noble one.Most importantly, the bodies of too many cadavers are littered across the globe of folks who felt that such was a possibility, or that politics is for the timid, and weakhearted .
    Never thought I’ll be saying this but it is time to ‘bell the cat,’ Mr Warner , for perhaps you instead alone have the ‘Cohones’ to put this fool to pasture and drive a stake into the heart of the PNM vampires!

  3. February 07, 2010

    UNC leader: Manning scared
    The PNM regime under Prime Minister Patrick Manning is afraid of the sweeping changes taking place in the opposition forces, says Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the UNC leader.

    Panday faces exec revolt in Couva North
    Political power continues to slip away from Basdeo Panday, the Couva North MP and Opposition Leader.

    Kamla takes on Bas in Couva North
    Despite sustaining injuries to her shoulder, United National Congress (UNC) political leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, moves into Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday’s Couva North constituency today to launch her series of meeting constituents throughout Trinidad and Tobago.

    They rude to visit my constituency –Panday
    Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday says the new UNC Executive is rude to go into his Couva North constituency without consulting him. Panday was responding to criticism levelled at him by Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner. In a news release statement yesterday, Warner said it was malicious for Panday to say he was not invited to the UNC’s “Meet the Constituency Tour” which began in Couva. Defending himself, Warner said he personally handed an invitation to Panday during’s Friday’s sitting of Parliament.

    …End of UNC Monday Night forum

  4. UNC’s Couva North abandons Panday
    Members of the United National Congress’ (UNC) Couva North constituency executive have abandoned their MP—defeated UNC political leader Basdeo Panday.

    …Panday’s men desert him

    Couva North executive members quit
    Another blow for Panday…

    Just two weeks after his defeat at the United National Congress internal election, Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday was dealt another major political blow yesterday, with the resignation of all members of his Couva North executive.

    …Bas: A lot of buying, selling taking place

  5. Finally….After dodging this perspective…You finally came through. Raff, I just knew you could do it. Your the best. But we’re all still waiting on your commentary regarding our new UNC Leader and Opposition Leader. Don’t use Haiti as a sounding board and a way to dodge this issue again…Lets’ all view your perspective on our now leader. We’re waiting.

  6. No need to try and be the British styled provocateur drptech,as we are all unto you, especially our wise elder statesman Uncle Shah. Tell me folks are we not ecstatic to be part of this love feast that is Trinidad and Tobago, even with the unfortunate negative ,neocolonial appendages ,of a few social warts and all?

    Tell me drptech what you believe has occurred for decades in many Indian cities where the inter ethnic ancestors of Mr. Shah ,along with eventual rival ,and one time ULF founding member, came from? You know fully well , that it’s daily, bloody ,savage confrontations , and clashes between dominant majority Hindus, and neglected Muslim counterparts.
    Since a few progressives like myself on this board are in the business of finding solutions for global social problems ,we will look at the novel research of a certain Professor Varshney, as to why this is not always the case , and see if there are any parallels with our own wonderful country T&T. Whereas most scholars and policymakers focused on the state , he in contrast,researched the makeup of civil society,for the means of conflict prevention. Here are his conclusions on the subject drptech:- “In areas where there were vast networks of civic engagement – such as integrated business organizations, trade unions, political parties, and professional groups – which cross communal lines, ethnic violence seemed more controllable and the possibility for confrontations less likely to occur. His investigations led him to conclude that communally integrated associations can serve as an agent of peace, particularly by restraining those powerful politicians who would polarize Hindus and Muslims along religious lines.”
    He could be talking about Sweet T&T ,don’t you agree my friend?


    In light of this therefore,why not ‘live and let live,’ so as to allow our now much wiser elder statesman , and editor in chief to do his job of objectively edifying us as he has done so well in the past.


    Someone once said that the pen is mightier than the sword, and I think no truer words were ever spoken . I for one , and I am certain many others prefer the more patient , tolerant, Uncle Shah that choose to skillfully wield his pen , in a prudent manner ,in much the same way of an experienced surgeon performing a dangerous operation would manipulate his scalpel.
    I shudder to think of how the British schooled good fellow, might have used his sword some four decades ago, if confronted with this divisive ,unmentionable ,incorrigible ,political rogue and vagabond, that has helped drag our national politics into the gutter due to the practice of ineptitude within his party , and failure at the national grand stage to seriously ensure that the PNM remain accountable to the masses , or simply that our country’s national interest was ensured as opposed to that of only the tribe, and self.
    So let Dr. Goopisingh our local, fervent ‘Genocidal Guru in Chief,’ push his hate agenda as much as he wants , as he tries to put a wedge between our dedicated local Indo Trini doctors , and our recently imported -though for some strange reason – often suspect ,hard working Nigerian doctors.
    Fortunately , it would result to zero political returns for him and other divisive loyalist ,as these good guys are no longer living on the continent of Asia or Africa, where barbaric , selfish, savageries, and inter ethnic terrorism disguised as religion, are the norm.

    They are now fortunately , the beneficiaries of a new social experiment of tolerance and respect for diversity, ably assisted by the ideals of our national founding members ,that subscribed to the notion -via our motto ,that “ every creed and race finds and equal place.”
    God bless sweet T&T , aka Rainbow Country drptech, agreed?

  7. Kamla set to replace Panday after Carnival
    UNC Political Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar confirmed last night that after Carnival she is set to replace Basdeo Panday as this country’s Opposition Leader.

    Kamla ‘seven steps closer’

    UNC to vet 16,000 new members
    A committee has been established to examine and regularise the 16,000 new UNC membership applications which were put on hold before the January 24 internal elections, says political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

    The problem with Mr Panday
    It may be Basdeo Panday’s fancy that he is going down with his boots on, but the reality is that the likely outgoing Leader of the Opposition is going to a political grave of his own making. He has been digging it for some time now. Certainly, his downward spiral dates from the time of his questionable behaviour as prime minister, and there has hardly been let-up since.

    Kamla dares Manning: Call election now
    United National Congress (UNC) political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has challenged the political leader of the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) Prime Minister Patrick Manning to call an immediate election.

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