Clint Chan Tack
FORMER UNC MPs Dr Fuad Khan, Ramona Ramdial and Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh are unfazed by what they see as the unfair advantage that incumbent leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her slate have over them going into the party’s internal elections on June 26.
Khan, Ramdial and Ramadharsingh are fighting solo battles against Persad-Bissessar and her slate for the posts of political leader, elections officer and party organiser respectively.
On Sunday, they put their faith in UNC members to upset the status quo as they did on January 24, 2010.
On that date, Persad-Bissessar defeated UNC founder Basdeo Panday in a landslide victory and was elected party political leader. Four months later, she became prime minister when the UNC-led People’s Partnership coalition won the the May 24, 2010 general election.
Khan said, “My campaign is taking off slowly.”
But he is not holdng virtual meetings like Persad-Bissessar’s slate.
He said Persad-Bissessar has the UNC’s resources at her disposal to benefit her slate’s campaign.
“They are using that resource going forward and that is their right.”
Persad-Bissessar’s slate also has the right to promote themselves, Khan said.
“People are listening to them nightly because they have the resources.”
He added he does not have Persad-Bissessar’s resources or the party’s membership list.
“They (Persad-Bissessar’s Star Team) have had it for a while because they are members of the (UNC) natex (national executive).”
Khan is doing a one-on-one campaign with party members, with Facebook advertisements being one way to reach them.
“I am not going to cry and say it is an unfair advantage.
“I went into it (elections) knowing full well that they (Star Team) have the resources.”
The Star Team, Khan continued, controls the administrative part of the UNC.
“They own the (membership) list, they own everything, and it has not been shared.”
Khan hoped UNC members who are fed up with this kind of behaviour in the party “will come out and vote for me for change.”
Khan has said his focus is to create a dual leadership with him as political leader and Persad-Bissessar as Opposition Leader.
He reiterated his promise to bring back members who felt alienated and “bring back the glory days of the UNC.”
Khan has a video on his fuadkhan1955 TikTok page encouraging UNC members to “unite and embrace.”
Ramdial said, “I have started campaigning on social media, soon will do some social media ads and flyers to distribute.” She added that “meetings will start next week and will go live.”
Ramdial observed that many members on Persad-Bissessar’s slate are sitting MPs and senators who already have information on UNC members in their constituencies.
“This put us independent candidates at an unfair advantage.”
Ramdial called for all card-holding UNC members to be allowed to vote on June 26. She recalled that before 2015, UNC members with party cards were allowed to vote in internal elections even if their names were not on the voters’ list.
Ramdial claimed, “Now if you are a card-holding member and your name is not on their sanitised list, you cannot vote.”
Ramadharsingh said his goal was to give the UNC options for the party organiser position. He is challenging Couva North MP Ravi Ratiram, a member of the Star Team, for that post.
He has been promoting himself through social media postings. Ramadharsingh has a Facebook video in which he speaks about his history in the UNC and says people should not be selected to positions “in awe of the leader and not performance.”
While having no problem with Persad-Bissessar as political leader, Ramadharsingh said, “If we (UNC) want to win the government, we have to show we are a party with a difference.”
He wants democracy in the UNC to be strengthened, and say he is not focused on the final results on June 26. He did not think anyone should be elected to any post in the party merely because they are a member of a slate.
“We have to start talking about a meritocracy, performance. Let’s have a debate.”
He agreed that Persad-Bissessar’s slate has an unfair advantage over Khan, Ramdial and himself. But he said, “My hope would be with the people on the ground who are expressing some dissatisfaction about the party’s inability to win elections of recent vintage.”
He added that the UNC does not appear to be changing into anything which resembles an alternative government to the PNM.