PNM supporter Hadrian Christmas says the PNM hierarchy ignored the voices of party supporters.

Some of the People’s National Movements (PNM) supporters in the Providence/Mason Hall/Moriah district say they felt disrespected by the party’s hierarchy and decided to vote for the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) in Monday’s Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections. This caused the PNM to lose the district it controlled for the past eight years.

They said the party “manoeuvred its chosen candidate” Kwesi Des Vignes over the peoples’ preferred choice Sheldon Cunningham.

The incumbent Cunningham and newcomers Des Vignes went before the party’s screening committee, but Des Vignes got the nod.

Hadrian Christmas, who said he is a PNM supporter, alleged the party created two party groups in the Mason Hall district to get Des Vignes nominated. The members of the group nominated Des Vignes, he alleged.

“The area not accustomed to supporting the PNM, but we liked Sheldon and supported him. They come and set up Des Vignes here and pushed him, but we wanted Sheldon.”

Before 2013, the former minority leader Ashworth Jack controlled the seat for 16 years. Cunningham changed that by beating Jack in 2013. Cunningham won the seat again in 2017.

“That move by the party was disrespectful. Our views matter, and it was time to show them that,” Christmas said.

Others said they had not bothered to vote.

“Since Sheldon was there, I vote for him. We know him. I not going to vote for a man who doesn’t know me. He (Des Vignes) would pass us in his big vehicle and not even come out and say ‘Hi’.”

Another said he was bothered by the zip line corruption allegations.

“I did not understand it, but when I hear the Prime Minister (Dr Keith Rowley) I feel he take we for fools. If he had said he would investigate it, I would prefer that. He said the lady (Tracy Davidson-Celestine) was not there and expected us to accept that? Come on. The PNM running the Assembly since 2001. They should know what happened,” the man said.

An older man said he did not like how the party treated its former leader Kelvin Charles.

“They treat him bad, bad, bad. If they treating their own bad, how they go treat me?”