L to R – Devant Maharaj; Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC MP, incumbent UNC Political Leader hoping to win the mandate again; Vasant Bharath, candidate for the UNC Political Leader post.

Political activist and former UNC Senator, Devant Maharaj, has accused the Political Leader of the United National Congress (UNC), of ‘tokenism’, saying she is race-baiting in order to win the party’s upcoming internal elections on Sunday 6 December 2020.

His comments come as Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC MP issued a scathing criticism of the candidates contesting the election under the slate of her main challenger for the Political Leader post, Vasant Bharath. 

In addition to questioning his loyalty to the party, Mrs Persad-Bissessar argued that the lack of racial diversity in her opponent Vasant Bharath’s team cannot take the party back to government.

She told party supporters during the UNC’s virtual meeting on Monday night:

“Look at the composition of our team, the Star Team, and the other team.  You know, 17 candidates in Trinidad for this election on their team and our team.  Seventeen, you know, and out of 1.4 million in this country, they could not find one looking like Sean Sobers.  They could not find one looking like Jearlean John.  Not one.  Seventeen positions and you could not find one for diversity, looking like Clifton De Coteau.  Not one.  Does not that tell you something about them?”

However, Devant Maharaj says the incumbent UNC leader “has descended into the gutter of race, class and caste to win an election”, and should be voted out of office.

“Not content with her black man/banana campaign which lost her the 2020 General Election, she has now weaponised race and class to garner support among the UNC membership,” he says in a release issued late on Tuesday.

“In her last speech, she boldly asks why the Lotus team couldn’t “find one” looking like Sobers and Jearlean.  What does she mean by “find one”?  Find a human?  Find a person? Find a citizen?  Her refusal to elevate Afro Trinidadians to the status of a person and simply refer to them as “finding one” is dangerously divisive and should be condemned by all right-thinking citizens,” Maharaj stated.

The former UNC Senator also took Mrs Persad-Bissessar to task for what he maintains is her alienation of middle-class East Indians.

“Her other demeaning use of “Knife and Fork” should also be deprecated in equally strong fashion.  ‘Knife and Fork Indian’ is the term used to shame East Indians who have educated themselves, become well-respected professionals and provide the best for their children.  Please make no mistake; it is a derogatory term used to describe professional East Indians who have done well for themselves,” he said.

He added: “In one swoop, Kamla Persad Bisessar has managed to alienate both middle-class people and Afro-Trinidadians from the United National Congress.”