Bas, Ram and Jack

By Raffique Shah
December 14, 2013

Raffique ShahAmong the three of them, Basdeo Panday, Jack Warner and Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj have accumulated 220 years on earth. You would think that these three geezers, having experienced a spread of political permutations, from the crown colony system and colonialism to independence and republicanism, would have also accumulated the wisdom to discern that they have long passed their political-expiry dates.

But no, not them. The aphrodisiac that accompanies power is so potent it deludes geriatrics into believing that they can return from the dead if they make enough noise. So last Sunday, amidst media-hype that would normally be generated by new, exciting prospects on the political landscape, the three summoned an assembly of geezers—probably 40,000 cumulative years among the 300 or so dinosaurs in the hall—to declare war on Kamla and launch a bid to recapture leadership of the UNC.

Mark you, this should be none of my business, or, indeed yours. If old people want to play the ox, if they wish to rattle their dentures, shake their pillboxes, they should be encouraged to so do since such exercise might well lift their spirits. As a geezer myself, I sometimes feel like shaking a leg, hoping in the process I don’t break a leg or damage a joint.

It is good for old people to have fun. But there is a limit to the mischief they should be allowed, and I verily believe that Bas, Ram and Jack crossed the boundary last week. Ostensibly, the meeting was supposed to a gathering of ex-sugar workers and cane farmers seeking to have the Kamla-led Government honour its promise on the 2010 campaign trail to give them land, house, money, toute bagai.

Except for accusing Kamla of not distributing plots of land promised to the ex-sugar workers (the Government has distributed around 2,000 plots, I believe), feature speaker Bas flayed the current leadership of the UNC for sins aplenty and called on the gathering of geezers to “take back your party”.

Take back what party? Didn’t Panday say that a party is not like a cow, it cannot be bought or sold or transferred? I suppose that was yesterday, or yesteryear in his case, and today is today.

Bottom line is Bas has suffered with acute political constipation ever since 2010 when Kamla and a bunch of relatively young activists won control of the UNC by a ten-to-one landslide, which, in Sparrow’s lingo, was unholy murder. In fact, Jack was part of that “sampat” in which Ramesh, too, was over-mauled.

What the membership signalled to Bas in those elections was that while they thanked him for what he had done for them, it was time to move on. He had managed to manipulate the UNC into office in 1995 by courting his sworn enemy, Ray Robinson, and his two Tobago seats. Bas would later lead the party to its sole electoral victory under his leadership in 2000. After that, it was a case of “wetting after wetting” until they cast Bas aside.

Coming to think of it, as leader of the ULF/UNC, Bas led his people to six general elections defeats, with one clear victory and two draws. That is an unenviable record that, in most cases, would have seen the leader resign, or the people boot him out for having failed them so miserably.

Last Sunday, he was boldfaced enough to claim that the party’s internal elections had been rigged in 2010 (by whom, pray?), and to dub the gathering of geezers “stupid” for being lured by promises that politicians never fulfil.

In a speech in which he stuttered and stumbled and often missed his cue, the ageing worrier sought to rally his geriatric forces in a battle that is lost before the first spittle gets past the lips. And wicked Ram and Jack, knowing the futility of the exercise, this charge of the blight brigade that is doomed to fail before it starts, applaud, egging the man onward when even the blind can see this is a case of backward ever, forward never.

Look, I have no interest in the internal affairs of the UNC or any other party. I belong to none and I am beholden to no one—which is why I can say what I think without fear, and most definitely without seeking any favours.

It does bother me, though, when I see and hear politicians make oxen of themselves. Bas, Ram and Jack should thank their gods for having granted them long lives and good health. They should be thankful, too, for having enjoyed offices they might never have attained in sane and sober societies. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

To engage in mischief in their political after-lives is to invite karma worse than purgatory. Leave Kamla and the cabal to the membership of the UNC and ultimately to the electorate.

In any event, who created these people politically? Bas did. Kamla is his handiwork, he her Guru. He manufactured Moonilal from dirt, Suruj from scratch. Why complain now?

11 thoughts on “Bas, Ram and Jack”

  1. The UNC can only have one leader at a time and that leader presently is Kamla. Jack Warner tried to take away power from Kamla and now he is like a pile of garbage floating in the political ocean. While floating around Jack met Panday (a man who thinks too much of himself) and Ramesh(a man who enjoys mashing up things). Panday’s speech to sugar worker telling them that they must take back their party is a speech reeking with jealousy and stupidity. This speech is no different to the one he first made some 40 years ago to a previous generation.

    Panday has become to some extent delusional as a previous leader he has squandered every good will that people had towards him,every time he opens his mouth in condemnation of Kamla he digs himself deeper into the cesspit of political oblivion. The problem is Panday will always be loved by the dying faction of the UNC, they fill his head with ole talk about how great a prime minister he was and great the UNC was back them under his leadership. These things energies him and suddenly the blood, sweat and tears talk comes flowing out again.

    The PNM for their part according to the words of Manning “Panday was a great friend of the PNM, but we have found a greater friend in Ramesh”. This was after Ramesh gave the file on Panday’s London flat and bank account. I am sure Rowley would now be saying “Warner is a great friend of the PNM “.

    1. Do you and the rest of the bigots in the UNC, really believe that repeating an imagined connection between Jack Warner and Dr. Keith Rowley like a mantra, it is going to stick? Jack Warner carries too much baggage, for anyone in their right political mind to form an alliance with him. Basdeo Panday has no ambition of becoming leader of the UNC cabal, he only desires leadership for his daughter, Mickela.

      1. “Jack Warner carries too much baggage, for anyone in their right political mind to form an alliance with him.” It is not a political alliance as much as it is an ideological alliance. Keith Rowley said there was a cabal controlling the PM lo and behold this became Warner campaign theme. Warner now votes with PNM in parliament and ask virtually the same questions as the PNM….the list goes on.

  2. Your blog was full of facts and fun. I enjoyed this line in particular: “They should be thankful, too, for having enjoyed offices they might never have attained in sane and sober societies. In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.”

  3. “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”. While I too have engaged in the practice of lambasting the leadership of Bas and Jack in the past we sometimes have to consider their relevance in today’s politics. We have an extremely low calibre of practitioners of the art when you consider the likes of Kamla, Suruj, Moonilal and Griffith etal. They are the leaders ‘in the land of the blind’ and whilst in their time we questioned their motives, they have become intellectuals in the land of the dumb. In most democracies, people change administrations for betterment, we in Trinidad change because we had the power to change, not knowing in the process that we were going to inherit an administration that would fire professional security experts and put our lives in the hand of a “little Indian girl” to protect us from external aggressions and drug lords of the highest calibre.
    We have since experienced the firing of a good local CoP to replace him with two foreigners who could not grasp the ethos of a good blind people, who only want to be governed by a good and fair government. In frustration, they had to flee to the land of their birth and habits to get away from the madness they endured here. We have leaders who when all else failed thought it was in their best interest and wisdom to call a “state of emergency” to make it appear as though they were tough. In the process though, they only locked up one kind of people. Granted, this is Mamoo’s type of good governance but it is jungle politics where, when all else fails you lock up those who might be easily considered a security risk. It is the type of administration that protect a member of its cabinet even in the most defenseless obscenity of scandals then turn around and blast him for crookedness when he departs from their ranks. It is the only administration in history of this country where the beloved AG can only see crimes committed by his predecessors but is blind to the billions lost in CAL, Petrotrin CNG and other state enterprises that are responsible for bringing in funds o run the government efficiently. In this respect, I do find Bas and Ramesh relevant and not at all relics of the past. I would welcome such relics in today’s environment to lead me rather than the dumb, dumber and dumbest carrying official titles of state importance. Given this state of affairs, the Bas and Ramesh are kings and we the governed should pay attention to in order to understand where we really are.

    1. “little Indian girl” (Kian)

      Your use of this expression implies that your opinions are formulated from a prejudiced position of superiority. Your use of this expression tells a great deal about your mentality.
      “We learn how to hate, we can also learn how to love because it is more natural for the human heart to love.”(Mandela)

  4. “little Indian girl” you refer to is almost the same height of the ‘little afro man’ Eric Williams. Your liberal use of the word blind and dumb as disparaging remarks to the ‘little Trini girl’ is a reflection of the the lack of respect accorded to our leaders who were elected by Trinis. Emotional outbursts clouds one judgement easily and sometimes it is very difficult to appreciate what you have when you realize that you are surrounded by ungratefuls in the ‘land of the ungratefuls’. After all you refer to Bas and Jack as ‘Kings’.

  5. Let me re-iterate, if we are judging class, performance, astuteness and relevance with regards to the practitioners of the art of politics in Trinidad and Tobago nowadays, then there is little or no doubt in my mind that Bas, Ramesh and Jack are not among the worst. Compared to some of those who handle the reins of power, they might be considered “kings” of the art. One might be terribly misled to take from that statement that I am making a moral judgement.

    1. I do follow your point on class and performance when we consider the political artistry of O’Halloran,Isabel Teshea, Chambers, Hugh Francis (monument on Wrightson road)…. Enough said!

  6. The Current Political Leadership of the PP/UNC are clones off their older predecessors. Jack Warner’s behavior and reputation is a function of the political culture in which he spent the last years in leadership positions. Aint no daylight between them and Kamla and her posse. They all feed from the same moral and ethical trough.

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