The just concluded Local Government Elections had nothing to do with constitutional reform.
The election was focused on “Get Kamla, Destroy Kamla”, and call a snap general elections in 2017 with a United National Congress (UNC) party in disarray.
When the People’s National Movement (PNM) won the general elections in 2015 with 23 seats, the party knew they could not pass legislation as they wanted. They could only pass simple majority legislation.
They could not pass special majority laws and they could not depend on the Opposition to support them.
So, the decision-makers within the PNM came up with a plan to “search and destroy” Kamla Persad-Bissessar, former Prime Minister and present Opposition Leader.
Insiders told TTWhistleblower that the PNM had a feeling that the UNC was a fractured party and there was a great split as there was a Kamla faction and another including Roodal Moonilal, Dr. Tim Gopeesingh, and Vasant Barath.
The PNM felt that after the internal elections of the UNC one year ago, the party was badly hurt and damaged and the ruling party decided that in the 2016 local government elections, they would target Kamla.
They wanted to weaken the Opposition Leader and drive her into retirement.
No one can deny that after the UNC internal elections, there were those who despised Moonilal, Vasant, and Gopeesingh for going against their leader.
In short, the PNM misread the script and went after Kamla.
Apart from the eight Corporations which they won in the 2013 local government elections, the PNM were banking on winning Mayaro, Siparia, and Chaguanas. Remember in 2013, the PNM and the dead-horse ILP, controlled Chaguanas, until the ILP’s Faaiq Mohammed crossed the floor to the UNC to give the yellow brigade control.
So all the ole talk of the past few months that this local government election were about constitutional reform, was just to play on the mind of the public.
The PNM put in several strategies to deal with Kamla. They spent a lot of money in the Siparia Regional Corporation hoping to win it and embarrass Kamla. Little did they know that only one of the nine seats in that Corporation fell in the Siparia constituency.
They spent more resources hoping to win Chaguanas. In Sangre Grande, who was the senior PNM man handing out cash in the last week as word spread that the UNC was ahead in that area?
The PNM went after Kamla in a big way. But they did not cater for Moonilal looking after Mayaro to ensure PNM remains outside. Little did they cater for Moonilal being on the platform at the final rally in Couva. Little did they cater for Gopeesingh rallying behind Kamla in the final week.
With egg on their faces, the PNM turned to roti. Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley thought by raising the issue of $350,000 spent on roti for Divali 2014 by the last PP Government, he thought he was “bussing” a mark to assist the PNM. He thought that expenditure was going to draw outrage from the community.
Within a day, the $350,000 for roti changed to $394,000 for the entire function to feed 3,500 guests at the Diplomatic Centre.
What Rowley and the PNM did not bargain for, was that the roti talk brought fighting factions of the UNC together again. And Rowley and the PNM knew that, because in some areas, numbers at public meetings were very small.
In 2013, just over 122,000 people voted for the UNC. In 2016, they maintained the 122,000 figure. In 2013, more than 188,000 voted for the PNM, but in 2016, that figure reached 120,000.
The PNM supporters stayed away, so too were the majority of the Indians in the PNM. They too were incensed by the roti talk.
When the dust cleared, PNM won seven corporations, UNC, 6, with a 4-4 tie in Sangre Grande. The PNM plan to get rid of Kamla had backfired.
The PNM were hoping for a decisive victory over the UNC, which would have led to more in-fighting within the UNC leadership. With a fractured UNC, the PNM was going to put God out of their thoughts and call a snap election in early 2017, hoping to get more seats so they can get a special majority in Parliament. But they must remember 1995 and 2010 when then PNM Prime Minister, Patrick Manning, called snap elections and lost on both occasions.
Now with their dismal showing and with more hardship to come, the PNM will have to switch to survival mode now.
With another local general election due in 2019 and a general election in 2020, the PNM will have to put out all stops to survive. Yes, survive. Many feel the PNM cannot survive for too long again, with their arrogance and incompetent style of governance.
In the 15 months the PNM has been in Government, little was achieved. All the Ministers keep doing is accusing the last Government of bad governance, waste, mismanagement, and corruption.
No one has been charged with anything, and the Attorney General has filed a civil case in the High Court against 9 former HDC officials over a land transaction. The case is sealed and no one has been served although the matter was filed in October.
Every day ordinary citizens are becoming more and more aware that they are getting nothing from this government.
The Children’s Life Fund which saved the lives of more than 100 children during the term of the last Government, is now in the ICU, battling for survival. The baby grant has gone, and other social programs have been dismantled.
The Couva Children’s Hospital which was built for children is now a political football. This Government does not want to open it but is spending $90 million on a lame duck project, the Brian Lara Stadium at Tarouba. Who will be playing cricket there? No international or CPL cricket will be going there.
Instead of staying home and playing with his grandchildren, the oldest man in the Cabinet, Anthony Garcia, decided to remove GATE for students 50 and over. Imagine that! Garcia removed laptops for all first-year Secondary school students, and he watered down the school book lists.
Many people say Kamla remind them of the first Trojan Horse.
What’s the story?
The Story of the first Trojan Horse
The Trojan Horse was a sneaky wooden contraption that allowed the Greeks to put an end to the 10-year-old Trojan War. For ten years the Greeks had been trying without success to break through the high walls of the city of Troy.
A Greek general named Odysseus came up with a clever idea how to get into the city of Troy. He told his soldiers to retreat leaving behind a giant wooden object made to look like a horse at the city gates. Inside the huge horse was a number of Greek soldiers, including Odysseus.
When the Trojans saw the giant wooden horse and the departing Greek troops, they thought the wooden horse was a parting gift from the gods, so most of them wanted to wheel it into their city.
The wooden horse was a move within the city walls as a war trophy. Unfortunate for the unsuspecting Trojans, the Greeks sneaked out of the wooden horse during the night, attacked the Trojans and conquered the city of Troy.
In short, Kamla conquered Rowley and the PNM.
THE REAL TROJAN HORSE