Political heat on the rise
ALL indications are that the brief political respite observed in deference to the Independence Jubilee celebrations is at an end with a noticeable ratcheting up of political activity from the start of this week.
Within 48 hours of the 50th anniversary, the leadership of the Congress of the People (COP) was behind closed doors, mapping out its strategy for dealing with one of the thorniest of issues within the People's Partnership.
In what seemed like a pincer movement, two highly strategic moves came from within the COP, both targeting Minister Jack Warner.
In one move, COP vice-chairman Vernon De Lima filed a tough-talking motion before the party's National Council which, if approved on Sunday, would result in the COP calling on the Prime Minister to remove Mr Warner from the Cabinet "failing which the Congress of the People will disassociate itself entirely from the People's Partnership".
Almost simultaneously, the COP National Executive issued a public statement, condemning Minister Warner's publicly declared interest in buying two newspapers. The statement, signed by COP leader Prakash Ramadhar, demands that Mr Warner desist in this matter, saying that if he pursues the deal, he would have to choose between serving the public interest as a cabinet minister, or his private interest as a businessman.
It is clear that the COP has Mr Warner in its sights, a fact that should surprise no one given the party's early position that Mr Warner could not serve two masters. Notwithstanding its open discomfort, the Prime Minister and leader of the United National Congress has not only ignored the COP but, effectively, thumbed her nose at her political partner by elevating Mr Warner, first to the National Security Council and, thereafter, to the position of Minister of National Security.
The stage is therefore set for Sunday's debate of De Lima's resolution which, politically speaking, has drawn a line in the sand by calling on the COP to state where it stands in relation to the controversial Minister Warner.
Meanwhile, outside the People's Partnership, the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) is also back on the hustings and preparing to lend its support to tomorrow's trade union march in Port of Spain and this weekend's return of the Highway Re-Route's motorcades.
None of these are new issues but their return to national focus makes the point that the differences between the partners of the People's Partnership Government have not all been resolved, despite the May 24 anniversary show of unity.
The MSJ solved its problem with the People's Partnership by leaving the Government. How the COP's position on Warner will eventually play out remains to be seen and may well determine the future of the COP within the Government and of the Government itself.
With Budget 2012-2013 now mere weeks away, and the political heat dramatically on the rise, the Minister of Finance is likely to discover that his job is as much about politics as it is about economics.