Vasant open to internal election debate
United National Congress (UNC) leadership challenger Vasant Bharath said the only “licks” incumbent leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar should be concerned about are the consecutive losses the party has faced in the last decade.
Persad-Bissessar on a political platform on Monday said her challenger would face a sound thrashing at the polls when the party holds its internal election on December 6.
Bharath said she should have been directing that response to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley since 2015, as she’s been the one at the receiving end of the licks.
He said supporters are fed up of election defeats at the hands of the PNM and it’s time for a turnaround.
Bharath pointed to what he said was the party’s lack of preparedness which has cost them elections he believes they should have won.
He said the UNC’s election machinery is ramped up only when election is called and this has caused the party to lose support in heartland constituencies like Oropouche East and West, Couva North and others.
“If you look at the results of the elections from 2010 to now, there’s been a drop of 123,000 votes in that period. That tells you voters are disenfranchised.”
Meanwhile, responding to a challenge to debate from Devant Maharaj who’s confirmed he’ll also be contesting the internal election, Bharath agreed it’s necessary.
“As much as I don’t appreciate the manner in which he (Maharaj) has run his campaign I think a debate is needed.”
The leadership hopeful said while it’s an internal election it has implications for the country.
“Voters must bear in mind that this leader may become Prime Minister and will be representing country at an international level, so they must consider how they respond to criticism and react under pressure.”
“We have to be able to prove to the population that we are worthy and can represent them well,” he added.
Bharath, who launched his election campaign last week said there’s been an outpouring of support since he’s announced his candidacy.
As for his slate, there won’t be any announcements just yet as screening of about 200 applications is ongoing. A decision, however, will be made over the weekend, at earliest.
He assured he’ll run a clean campaign as proven by his track record.
“You won’t see any mudslinging in my campaign because I’m not that kind of person. I deal with the facts.”
Our people have come to expect a kind of rough neck response
If I can do the job quietly, that’s what I’ll do
Bharath added, “I don’t need to be a ra ra ra politician to get the job done.”
His vision for a “formidable” UNC includes rebuilding the party to allow a more democratic process giving members with diverse opinions the chance to have a say.
“We need to change the entire focus of the party. We need to work on creating the ultimate party and not the ultimate leader.”
Bharath assured he’ll host his campaign in keeping with COVID-19 protocols. There will be a series of virtual meetings beginning next Wednesday, right up until the election.
He encouraged supporters to keep in touch on social media.