Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) leader David Abdulah is warning that there could be violence in the election campaign if Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar do not desist from race-baiting and emotive rhetoric in the general election campaign.
Abdulah believes this is why the MSJ’s Fyzabad candidate Radhaka Gualbance was attacked by a man purporting to be a United National Congress (UNC) supporter while she was campaigning at Berridge Trace, Fyzabad after filing nomination papers on Friday.
Speaking at a news conference in San Fernando yesterday, Gualbance, 61, said she was verbally abused by the man who grabbed her arm and accused her of splitting the UNC votes in that constituency.
Gualbance, a former teacher and retired businesswoman, made a report to the police.
She said she is not interested in pursuing criminal charges against the man, but she asked the police to give him a warning.
Abdulah said the attack on his candidate is an example of what happens when people seek to inflame and incite others with “all kinds of emotive rhetoric.”
In an election campaign, he said candidates, leaders and parties sometimes experience “a high” with all the excitement and their real nature is exposed.
With elections in less than three weeks, he said the leadership of the UNC and PNM has shown that they are prepared to win by any means necessary.
“We have already seen examples of this from individual candidates and leaders of the two main political parties.
“What this demonstrates really is the unbalanced state of those leaders and of those parties and they have demonstrated therefore their lack of balance, their lack of clear thinking, their lack of their ability to rise above very narrow concerns in an effort to win votes. So these leaders and parties and candidates are trying to win the elections by any means possible and they have resorted in the past, this is not new, they have resorted in the past to all kinds of efforts to mobilise their base by race and by religion, in particular, sometimes by geography and to generate a certain amount of prejudice, dislike, hatred even for persons and candidates of a different race, different religion, different geographical location.”
He added: “We are warning of this upfront because what happens when people get stirred up along lines of race and religion, emotive issues relating to identity, what can happen is that the election campaign can become violent and we warn against any acts of violence in this election campaign and we call on the leaders of particularly the PNM and UNC to engage in language that is not intemperate.
“That we engage in language that does not seek to inflame along lines of race, religion, gender and so on, to ensure that the election which is a close-fought election is going to be one that does not degenerate and which Trinidad and Tobago would regret for many years to come.”
However, he said the fact that the man accused Gaulbance of splitting UNC votes meant that the MSJ is doing very well and its opponents are very worried that the MSJ is going to cause a big upset at the August 10 polls.
“We are calling on the people of Trinidad and Tobago to focus on your interests for a better life, for a better society, a better Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.
Abdulah is contesting the Pointe a Pierre seat while the three other MSJ candidates are Renee St Rose for Diego Martin Central , Marlon Greaves for La Brea and Ernesto Kesar for Point Fortin.