Vasant Bharat speaks with the media after filing nomination papers on Sunday at the UNC Headquarters, Couva

Don’t be manipulated into violating UNC’s Constitution.

This was the reminder yesterday from UNC leadership challenger Vasant Bharath to party constituency executives.

He said the UNC’s Constitution doesn’t require that statements of loyalty for the party leader be made in an internal election – and he also gave this reminder to those whom he said “may seek to control executives.”

His reminder came after UNC’s St Augustine and Oropouche East units and San Juan MP Saddam Hosein recently came out in support of incumbent leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

The leadership post is among UNC national executive positions open for contest in UNC’s December 6 internal election.

Bharath said, “I specifically refer to the statements of certain Constituency Executives been posted on social media and which appear to pledge loyalty to the current leader. Whilst the publication of these statements are cause for serious concern, I am comforted by my faith in your knowledge that loyalty cannot be taken from you, nor should it be demanded of you; it must be earned by true leadership. I do however appreciate the political reality of your respective situations and wish to let you know that I harbour no ill will or malice.”

“Let me give to you my solemn word; should the members of our great party decide on December 6 to elect me as your leader, I will in no way discriminate, ostracize or undermine any Constituency Executive that has made public statements in support of the current leader.”

“I shall seek no retribution. That’s not my way, that’s not the leader I aspire to be and that’s not the vision which I have for our party. I assure you, under my leadership, we shall be a party of love, dignity, and mutual respect- a party of unity because I sincerely believe unity is strength.”

Bharath added, “While democracy can be a potent force for positive change, its frailty can be exposed by those who seek to remain in power only for the sake of wielding power. A democratic party cannot exist without properly functioning democratic institutions. Our party’s democratic institutions are populated by our democratically-minded members. Consequently, an attack on our party’s institutions is an attack on the members of our party.”

“Declarations of loyalty by our independent Constituency Executives are directly repugnant to the spirit, tenor, and intent of our constitution. In other words, our constitution does not contemplate or require declarations of loyalty to the leader during the conduct of internal elections. In fact, I dare say our constitution impliedly rejects such conduct.”

“I don’t seek to condemn the Constituency Executives which have issued these statements. Instead, I wish to respectfully remind you, and those who seek to exercise control over you, of the aims and objectives of our great party as set out in our constitution.”

He added, “I respectfully ask that all members, institutions, councillors, MPs, senators, and other officers of our great party remember these constitutional principles and govern yourselves accordingly.”

The UNC deputy leader David Lee and others did not answer calls on Bharath’s statement.