There is need for “candid discussions” in the Congress of the People (COP) and the party needs to embrace change in its rebuilding efforts, says former political leader Winston Dookeran.
The Foreign Affairs Minister was responding to questions from the media on the controversy in the COP where calls have been made for its leader, Prakash Ramadhar, and members of the executive to resign and for the party to remove itself from the People’s Partnership coalition.
Kishore Ramadhar, brother of the COP leader, has moved a motion in this regard, saying his brother’s failed leadership was responsible for the COP’s failure at Monday’s local government elections.
Ramadhar (P) has said resignation was not an option for him and he was committed to rebuilding the COP.
“I think the moment is one for some candid conversations on the successes and the shortfalls of the political movement that we started in 2010. In electoral sense the movement was started before that and the COP’s presence was very instrumental in making it a reality,” Dookeran said yesterday.
He was speaking following the launch of a photo exhibit to commemorate United Nations Day, 2013 at the Hyatt Regency hotel, Port of Spain.
On the results of the elections where the COP was unable to win any of the five municipal corporations it contested, Dookeran said, “....the COP did not fare well at the electoral level and I would expect in any political organisation that there would be ripples as a result, but the pathway that we have set will not be disturbed and decisions will have to be informed by that pathway”.
“So in the years ahead a candid discussion is essential, perhaps change in focus and change in the direction is necessary but a national movement that is an alternative to the movement that controlling the country for many years will find difficulties but must never in any way renege on its commitment and its mandate,” he added.
Asked whether the COP should dissolve itself and join the UNC or work towards rebuilding its party, Dookeran said: “The political parties form a movement and there are components for that movement and there is place for that movement to continue in what way and in what are the terms of engagement of that movement need to be reviewed.”
Dookeran stressed the COP was still a viable force in the country’s political landscape.
“I have no doubt that the COP as a force of fixing the politics will remain a strong force. The fact that so many people did not vote and were disenchanted in this election is a reflection that they have not seen the light and therefore the force will remain, whether the vehicle to promote that force will have to be adjusted, I rather suspect that it will,” he said.
Asked what was the feedback he was getting from the people and whether members were still loyal to the party, Dookeran said, “I think people are still loyal to what the COP enunciated in 2007, they know the road we have to travel is not an easy one and therefore they recognise that there are some errors in political strategy that has taken place but they are still hopeful that whatever emerges beyond the concept and the notion of the COP will be part of that political calculus.”
Political observers have said the results of the local government elections signalled a return to “tribal politics” in the country.
“I think it’s a very superficial analysis. I think the issue of tribal politics has given a level of acceptability by political commentators that does not exist.
“I think this country has passed beyond that a long time ago and I think people are willing to respond to the issues and there is no doubt that issues will affect one group differently to another group, but I don’t think it’s an issue of tribal politics at all,” he said.
Asked whether he was asked or if he feels the need to take a more proactive role in affairs of the COP, Dookeran said, “From time to time I have spoken to members of the party and I will continue to do so, but I always believe that we must pass on the mantle of leadership to a next generation and I will continue to support that move.”