Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj says he will not be attending a meeting called by former prime minister Basdeo Panday who is trying to establish unity movement with independent candidates and political entities.
At a news conference yesterday, Maharaj said he was flying out of the country today and will not be around for the meeting on Wednesday at Gaston Court, Chaguanas. He said he is no longer interested in politics and is focusing his commitments as a legal practitioner.
Maharaj served as Attorney General in the Panday administration until 2001 when there was a fallout. Panday later accused Maharaj of joining forces with the PNM to bring down the UNC government.
Former political leader of the Congress of the People Prakash Ramadhar also said he will not be attending Panday’s meeting and plans to call a press conference to discuss his political future at another time. However, independent candidate for San Fernando West Jowelle De Souza said she will attend.
“I believe it’s a meeting everyone should attend. You don’t have to tow any party lines. That meeting is not a meeting to show allegiance. It is just a meeting to discuss whether we can work together and I have no doubt that all the independents could work together,” De Souza said.
Noting that in all small parties there are “smart people”, she added: “We have people who have worked the trenches, Vasant Bharat, Garvin Nicholas. There are many fenceline voters who do not want to vote for the PNM or the UNC.”
“Mr Panday attracts a wide audience—people from the UNCNAR, and even Abu Bakr’s son. Mr Panday attracts more than the UNC could ever attract,” De Souza said.
She said the call by Panday for an alliance is not too late as in 1986 the NAR was formed shortly before elections and that party overthrew the PNM by winning 30 seats.
Panday recently made an appeal on Facebook for people who wanted meaningful change to come together and work on a plan.
He said: “It must be ellucidly clear to all the smaller political parties in Trinidad and Tobago that under the present political system there is no way they are going to win any seats in Parliament. If they are serious in any meaningful participation in the political process then they must unite in a struggle to change the system. That means changing the Constitution. To do so they must get together and contest the next general elections under a single banner. Persisting in the blame game will not solve anything. What do you think?”
Panday also posted: “Having regard to the deteriorating state of affairs in our country I think the time has come when those of us who seek meaningful change must come together and work on a plan to do something about it.”