It’s a four-way battle for St Augustine so far after Congress of the People (COP) leader Carolyn Seepersad- Bachan yesterday announced she will contest the St Augustine seat.
It is the COP’s bid to keep the seat following the 10-year tenure of COP MP for the area Prakash Ramadhar who was given the UNC “safe seat” in the cementing of the 2010 People’s Partnership (PP) coalition.
He retained it in 2015 election and was in Opposition ranks when the PP lost the 2015 polls.
He’s been estranged from the COP since Seepersad-Bachan’s leadership began in 2017. Ramadhar said Monday he’d decided to stay out of the upcoming election.
Yesterday Seepersad-Bachan was announced as COP’s St Augustine candidate among three other COP announcements: Lonsdale Williams (Diego Martin North East), Kurt Sinnette (Laventille West), Anthony De Four (Port-of-Spain North/St Ann’s West).
The COP is part of the Better United group of parties contesting in different areas. Seepersad-Bachan said the COP will have a few more candidates, but was standing down in some areas to allow other parties to contest. The COP won’t be in San Fernando West where she said Progessive Party leader Nikoli Edwards is contesting. Nor will the COP contest Diego Martin Central where the Movement for Social Justice is contesting.
For upcoming polls, the UNC is seeking to retake the seat with deputy leader Kadijah Ameen. The PNM’s candidate is Renuka Sagramsingh Sooklal. Inshan Ishamel is also planning to contest that seat.
In the three-way fight of 2015, Ramadhar (with PP) won 12,606 votes to the PNM’s Alisha Romano’s with 6,186 and the NCT’s Nalini Dial, 331.
On her bid for the COP to retake the sea in the upcoming four-way fight, Seepersad-Bachan said the “new normal” that T&T goes forward with due to the COVID-19 pandemic, demands change and she insists the election is part of the opportunity to obtain this.
She added, “Change is required for T&T and for the population to move on properly, and progress. T&T is in the current state because of the two parties we’ve had for years. We say let the change begin in St Augustine in this election. We say to constituents—Be You in this election.”
She said the COP had advocated people contesting in areas where they live to better represent residents. She added that while she was San Fernando homegrown and had voted there, she’s contesting for the first time in the St Augustine constituency, as she lives in Valsayn.
Seepersad-Bachan attended university in the area and was a UWI lecturer for over 20 years also, “There’s always been need to develop this area as a tertiary education hub and in other areas including micro-enterprises. It’s very underdeveloped and shouldn’t have been. Its shortcomings were never fully addressed through an MP.”
With that hit on the Opposition’s former representation of the seat, she also addressed her colleague Ramadhar’s representation.
She said the COP hadn’t been operating independently when he was part of the Opposition. She said the COP’s bid aims to change the situation.
“This is about restoring power to the Parliament to not only debate issues but as a channel for accountability and for development to occur. St Augustine has a real chance will to make this change.”
“Voters must fully understand this election isn’t about red or yellow but to seek change by making the right choice. This is about you. The world has changed irrevocably. There’s a second economy which T&T must be part of and we have to change how we think or be lost. You must put a hand into shaping your future.”