Tuesday, February 20, 2018

COP insider: We watched ourselves be destroyed

Congress of the People (COP) members are agitated over the slow and steady deconstruction of their party's presence by the dominant partner in the two-year-old coalition government—the United National Congress (UNC).

Senior party insiders, speaking under the strict condition of anonymity, say constant erosion of the COP's presence began in the build-up to the general election in 2010 and has spilled over into the last two years in government.

"Many people only think the COP started losing political ground after the Cabinet reshuffle (in June 2011), but that started happening before. This (San Fernando Mayor) Marlene (Coudray) incident is just another item in the long list of disrespectful moves by the UNC," one source said in a telephone interview yesterday.

While the major bone of contention remained the removal of Public Administration Minister Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan from the Energy Ministry last June, other issues were not even made public.

"Look at how they butchered (Minister of Finance Winston) Dookeran's ministry. They moved Planning to (Planning Minister) Bhoe (Tewarie)," the insider said.

"We were not even consulted before he (Tewarie) was appointed. How is that partnership?" the source asked.

The insider said the COP was also not consulted before the appointment of one of its members, Nicole Dyer-Griffith, to Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"And she is a COP. That is how high-handed and disrespectful the UNC is," the insider said.

"We have suffered a lot of indignities and this latest violation of a clear agreement was too much," one source said.

"We watched ourselves be slowly destroyed. This stand is about the survival of the COP," the source maintained, referring to the latest meeting of coalition leaders, which occurred on Thursday night at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann's.

The source said Coudray's defection, which was now being mirrored by San Fernando councillor Gloria Calliste, is a calculated move to undermine the COP stronghold in the San Fernando area.

"The UNC is targeting the COP," the source said.

"The UNC is controlling the delivering ministries and the majority of the resources are being fed into the UNC camps. All the roads, the lights and highway construction are being put in four constituencies: Siparia, Oropouche East and West and Couva North," the source said.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is the Member of Parliament for Siparia, while deputy political leader Roodal Moonilal is the MP for Oropouche East, Stacy Roopnarine for Oropouche West and Ramona Ramdial is the MP for Couva North.

The source said 65 roads were fixed in Couva North alone, while Siparia now boasted three illuminated playfields, a new library and major road upgrades.

"But in the COP stronghold? Not a thing. At one point the (San Fernando Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan) MP had to beg Jack Warner for PURE (Programme for the Upgrading of Road Efficiency) to come in and help," the source said.

"We not lying down to take that," the sources both maintained.

Both party insiders agreed the UNC by itself would not have won the 2010 election if not for the COP participation.

"They have fooled themselves into thinking they would have, but no one was willing to put just UNC back in power," the source said.