Chairman of the Congress of the People (COP) Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan said the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) may have suffered in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election because it did not maintain its individual identity.
She said there was a need for the parties in the People's Partnership to maintain its individual characters, and this was one of the things the Congress of the People had always sought to do.
"You have to continue to show your support base that we are representing you," even at the risk sometimes of taking a different position from the coalition, she said in an interview at the Parliament Chamber, Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, on Tuesday.
The TOP, unlike the COP and former partner the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ), never took a public position in opposition to anything done by the People's Partnership Government and appeared to be always endorsing the Government's stance.
Seepersad-Bachan said the issue of the relationship between the TOP and United National Congress (UNC) became an issue on the ground in Tobago.
"And we are finding the same problems here between COP and UNC," she said.
She said now was the time to look again at the engagement between the partners. She said the People's Partnership, a coalition of political parties forming the Government, was not a monolith, and it was necessary for the parties to maintain their individual identities.
She said the "agree-to-disagree" principle, which many persons did not understand, was important and was happening globally wherever there were coalitions.
Seepersad-Bachan congratulated the winning candidates of the THA election but said there was a concern for the COP that there was now no opposition, which raised the whole issue of governance and checks and balances.
She said she hoped the people of Tobago would be vigilant and would play that role (of a check and balance). She recalled a similar situation occurred in Parliament in 1971.
Asked whether it was a referendum on the performance of the Government, she said no.
"I think it (the TOP defeat) had to do with issues that were not addressed. Local issues in Tobago," she said, adding that the people of Tobago wanted to deal with Tobago issues such as whether they would have control over their (THA) Government. She said a lot of the propaganda about who would become a puppet and who would not become a puppet took hold.
In a separate interview on Tuesday in Parliament, Minister of Tobago Development Del- mon Baker when asked whether the election result was a reflection of how Tobago viewed the performance of the TOP and its position as a partner in the People's Partnership said, "Those would have been part of the factors that may have led to the defeat of the TOP. But there were other issues as well.
"Perhaps the messaging by the PNM (People's National Movement) was better at the time or on the day of the election, and maybe the machinery that the TOP thought it had in place was not there. We will look at all those factors. But we are confident that the people of Tobago will make the best choice in their own interest when the time is right. The TOP will continue to work in their interest".
Asked whether the TOP's value within the Partnership has been reduced, Baker said: "Worry not."