The local government election campaign, thus far, has been sour and prickly.
Having eaten insatiably off the Chaguanas West by-election dinner table, the more delicious for the new watercress on the menu, I expected, once again, to RSVP on nightly invitations to TV-land and to laugh, shriek and then switch off, belly full, content from hefty servings of heart-healthy Trinidadianess.
But the campaign has been plenty pommecythere and paltry paw paw.
The sugar cane of the Central Plain resurfaced rotten with those telling dark cream patches; Rudy Indarsingh, the Green Team implied, had betrayed Caroni workers ten years ago in his negotiations as president of the All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers’ Trade Union. North of the Caroni, this is an old allegation, but to those who inhabited the land of Anopheles-on-the-sitar and whose ontological landscape changed before they could say “Molasses!” the spectre of betrayal must cut as deep as a sharpened 3-canal.
Caroni is no laughing matter, no fodder for political picong. Politically, it reaches into the beating heart of a large community of citizens now bereft of tradition, economy, landscape, scent, routine, and arrows. Politically, too, the Caroni conversation sets up the red party to answer to those it devastated back then from the safety of its high Port of Spain towers.
Dr Keith Rowley, as I recall, embodied that brutality visited upon Caroni (1975) Ltd. Now incarnated as PNM political leader, I look forward to his Central visit and what he will say in his defence. He would be well-advised not to avoid the topic; elections are not won on the corridor and oil belt alone anymore and his comments among what used to be cane fields will tell me whether his party has conducted any meaningful introspection on its relationship with Indianpeople and therefore if it deserves my vote, this time and the next.
Everywhere, political mischief is rife. Fear is conspicuous.
Is there a master plan behind wanton and dreaded criminality? Is someone trying to make things bad so he or she can present as the only solution? Is there truly a dictator a vote away?
Of that sun-shiny day in April, did the man really plan his business three years before? Was that spontaneous political theatre or choreographed coup?
In the imagination, these questions are fanciful; in reality, they scare daylight away.
The lady in yellow is using a jaundiced theme: they talk, we deliver, except when she delivers that line of talk she appears unconvinced herself, as if the repetition is as much for her as her audience, as if she is already defeated, political legs wobbling, no fearsome ally or cabal to offer support, no new jokes to alleviate the visible scarring by Tobago, Chaguanas West, and impending ignominy.
Resigned, she throws into small, fatigued gatherings a health card to heal diseases of her own creation. If begging would not have elicited pitiless laughter, I reckon she would beg, promise to atone for all the abuse, to fire the abusers, and to return to a sincere Fyzabad moment.
San humanite, few would have any of it.
Instead, therefore, she raises a ghoul of her own—the PNM. They want to take back power, she yells, hoping to invoke an old fear. Except it falls duuh! on the dry, hard ground in a reticent rainy season. Isn’t that why people wage political battles, to retain or acquire political power?
The lady’s duuh fell as hard as Winston Dookeran’s who obviously lives only in his head; if he lived in the real Trinidad (not Tobago) he would know that it is unnewsworthy to say what most of the country already knows: the COP has no respect from the majority of citizens; the days of dreamy “new politics” are far gone, the COP having left those moorings many times before the country left them.
If all the “concerns” the COP has “expressed” since May 2010 have not changed the party’s name to Concerns Only, People, they have certainly earned them the nincompoop label. As is the case with all unpleasant truths, the party has objected to the label while still adhering to the tenuous line that it will hold itself to the highest levels of conduct.
If so, Madam Chair, why did COP want a separate place at the debate lectern? And when your political leader said a few nights ago that Jack Warner has been throwing blows so he now has to pelt some cuff in retaliation, is that the highest level of conduct?
All of them are making a messy meal of this election project. Perhaps, as usual, many will eat-ah-food, from mike-man to cucumber vendor. Some will regurgitate the incumbents, the T-shorts of all colours, and the flimsy flags. Some will swallow the sourness whole. Others will gorge at the table of desperation and fear.
In the end, though, I suspect we will all remain hungry, gas growling in our bellies, for a better time defined by better people. In the meantime, they can keep their pommecythere; I will buy my own paw paw.