The following is Vasant Bharath’s concession speech after losing Sunday’s UNC internal elections:
“Members of United National Congress have voted in the National Executive election, and the Lotus Team accepts their decision.
We congratulate the Star Team of candidates, led by incumbent Ms. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, and wish them all success during their term of office.
We offer to be of assistance in the urgent and extensive exercise of rebuilding and renewing the UNC.
I gratefully thank all party members who voted for the Lotus Team and all those who worked tirelessly on the ground to make the changes that we all know are necessary.
We are honoured and humbled by your support.
I am also extremely proud of the team members that I led. I could not have asked for more and I could not have gotten more, both in terms of commitment and genuine hard work.
I also express appreciation for the generous endorsement and activism of former Members of Parliament, Senators, National Executive members, stalwarts and campaigners.
But in acknowledging the announced results of the election, we note that there were widespread irregularities, just as we had feared and to which we had alerted the national community.
Scores of people whose names were not on the revised list of electors were permitted to vote at several polling stations.
Several lifetime members were debarred from exercising their franchise.
In one case, a veteran party operative – who had previously served as presiding officer in one of the houses of Parliament – brought in several non-financial members who were permitted to cast their ballots.
In some cases, prominent and active campaigners for the Star Team performed as election officers, including as Presiding Officers.
Revised lists of electors were provided only to candidates and activists of the Star Team.
There were many cases of voters being verbally abused, bullied and intimidated at polling stations.
At least two Members of Parliament were seen openly campaigning among members who were lined up to cast their votes.
Paraphernalia of the Start Team were distributed within the precincts of some polling stations.
There are several other documented examples of electoral irregularities.
It is most ironic that these gross abnormalities took place at the hands of an incumbent Political Leader who had lobbied for independent observers for the August 10 general election.
Further, the leader had declined to concede defeat in the general election and had claimed for several days that there were electoral irregularities.
For weeks before the election, Team Lotus had publicly complained about the absence of transparency and accountability in the electoral process.
Our documented objections were never addressed.
With the electoral process behind us, I urge all party members not to engage in recriminations.
Antagonism and reproach would only harm an organisation that requires the commitment and united purpose of all its human resources in order to displace the failed PNM at the next general election.
I implore Ms. Persad-Bissessar to embrace and integrate all party supporters and sympathisers in the essential organisational restructuring that is required if the UNC is to become a viable political force.
A major initial assignment should be to determine why there is such apathy among members, as evidenced by the very low voter turnout.
It is instructive that 19 UNC Members of Parliament could only motivate a tiny minority of members to participate in the electoral process.
A first measure in removing the PNM from national office must be to inspire the UNC’s ground troops to the party’s cause.
On behalf of the Lotus Team, I again thank all our supporters, and I extend best wishes to the new National Executive of the UNC.
Vasant V Bharath”