RADHICA DE SILVA
UNC leadership challenger Vasant Bharath said last night that he will try again until he oust Kamla Persad-Bissessar as political leader.
Speaking to the media at Doc’s Ranch in Philippine as he waited on results last night, Bharath said he was “quietly confident” of winning the position.
“We are quietly confident in the work we have done and that it will take us past the victory line,” Bharath said.
His comments came before he conceded the election after results showed overwhelming support for Persad-Bissessar.
He added that he was very proud of his team.
“They could not have done any more in the six-week period. If we are not successful, we will come again because if we are to remain members of the UNC we want to get into government. There is no point in staying in an organisation that continues to fail and not accept responsibility for its failure so it could improve its chances and we will continue to advocate for that change,” Bharath added.
He also noted that there were a number of irregularities in many constituencies.
“People were being allowed to vote once they were voting on the Star slate and they were allowed to vote even if their names were not on the list,” he added.
Bharath said others including his father who is an original member, was not given the chance to vote.
“There was a situation where we had to call the Elections Committee because two members of Parliament almost took up residence in two of the polling stations and their presence was intimidating to voters,” Bharath said.
He noted that people who had openly declared their support for Persad- Bissessar had been working as polling agents and presiding officers.
“That clearly leaves some level of bias. But you know, it is what it is and we are trying to change the culture of the party and also change the way we do things so people can see us as an attractive alternative to the PNM,” Bharath said.
He said in areas like Barrackpore, Naparima and at SWWTU in Laventille constituencies there were irregularities.
“In Princes Town we had a fracas where (name called) went in and was intimidating people while in St Augustine, a number of people were not allowed to vote,” Bharath said.
He noted that his role in the Prime Minister’s Roadmap to Recovery was well-intentioned and if it hurt his chances in the elections, he did not mind.
“Politicians have to think nationally and think country before party and I will always do that. If I lost votes, then I’m happy to do just that because I will always put the country before any party.”
Bharat said he was personally disappointed that only about 12,000 people came out to vote.
“This shows there is a deep disenchantment with the current leadership. We have come out of a general election and we as a party got only 10 per cent of the voters to come out. That is an indictment on the leadership of this party,” Bharath said.
He noted, “It tells you that our own people and supporters are not interested because they don’t see the UNC as a viable option. That level of disenchantment with the UNC.”
Bharath said he visited 19 constituents and the UNC supporters expressed sentiments of “abandonment, disillusionment, victimisation.”
He said undue pressure should not be placed on the electorate to support the incumbent when they needed change.