The confusion concerning Dr Keith Rowley attending the Divali Nagar celebrations, appropriately dressed for the occasion, is a national non-issue and purely political rhetoric that we in the People's National Movement (PNM) can adequately manage.
The PNM has always acknowledged the value of each section of our national community to nation-building. Over the 56 years of the PNM, our leaders have embraced the Hindu community and developed a good working relationship with the major Hindu and Muslim organisations.
Dr Eric Williams had a very good working relationship with a tower of a man, Mr Bhadase Sagan Maraj, whom he consulted before the Divali holiday was declared in 1964.
Former prime minister Patrick Manning met with the executive of the Maha Sabha in 1991 and maintained a very close relationship with the general secretary, Mr Satnarine Maharaj, during 1991-1995.
On instructions, the then minister of education collaborated very closely with Mr Maharaj and proceeded to renovate and maintain all primary schools of the Maha Sabha. We also saw the construction of the Lakshmi Girls' Hindu College.
Manning worked very closely with the Maha Sabha and Swaha organisations and even apologised to the Hindu community for any perceived misgivings done to them by the PNM. An executive member of Swaha, Pundit Manideo Persad, was also appointed our high commissioner to India from 2002-2010.
I am certain our Hindu community is then fully satisfied that the PNM is very facilitative of each and every ethnic and religious section of our beloved nation.
Dr Rowley and I attended Divali Nagar celebrations on more than two occasions. On one occasion, he addressed the audience. Mrs Joan Yuille-Williams, as then minister of culture, also attended the Nagar.
In 2006, former minister of local government Mr Rennie Dumas approved $450,000 for the construction of a car park at the Nagar.
The PNM cabinet, of which Dr Rowley was a member, approved $500,000 on the recommendation of then minister of local government Mr Jarret Narine for the completion of the Siewdass Sadhu Temple in the Sea in Waterloo.
Dr Keith Rowley always attended Divali celebrations at the home of deceased Kumar Doon Pundit in Arima and at our home at Las Lomas. On November 10, Dr Rowley was our chief guest at Divali celebrations of our Shiva Joyti Temple in Las Lomas No 1. He was well received by the residents.
I can give the national community the assurance that over the years, the voice of my Hindu community is well received, appreciated and respected by the People's National Movement.
We the Ojah-Maharaj family are also fully conscious of our responsibilities to the peaceful and harmonious development of our nation.
Former PNM executive and
member of the Maha Sabha