Today is D-day for Prakash Ramadhar as Congress of the People (COP) voters will go to the polls to re-elect him as leader or seek a new head in the form of Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan or Dr Lincoln Douglas.
The COP was founded in September 2006 by Winston Dookeran who in 2011 endorsed Ramadhar to succeed him.
Three years later, Dookeran has now thrown his support behind Seepersad-Bachan to lead the party.
All three candidates sit in Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s Cabinet. Ramadhar holding the Legal Affairs Ministry portfolio, Seepersad-Bachan Public Administration while Douglas heads the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism.
Over the past few weeks there were intense campaigns from all camps and heated televised debates amongst the leaders designates.
At the final debate last Thursday, retired soldier Rufus Foster withdrew from the leadership race and endorsed Seepersad-Bachan.
The three remaining candidates, in their closing statements expressed why they should be elected and what they would bring to the party as leader.
Seepersad-Bachan said she has been with the party from inception and has a deep understanding on what it needs to heal and fix its problems.
“I have watched the fragmentation and deterioration of the party with great hurt. I feel duty bound to fix the party, to get the politics right,” she said.
As leader, Seepersad-Bachan said she will re-energise the base of the party, create an excitement and accommodate new ideas at the leadership level.
She emphasised that a stronger COP means a healthier coalition.
Seepersad-Bachan said it was not too late for the party to fix its problems and she was willing to work with Douglas and Ramadhar in the way forward.
She said the COP cannot continue to look back but must move forward with a new leader.
Douglas urged all COP members to come out and vote as he stressed the importance of the election.
He said the election of a COP leader can transform the politics of the country.
“I propose to restart a dialogue with all our member and bring them back to the fold of the COP and lead from in front,” said Douglas adding that he will work towards grooming future leaders and also ensuring that the party has financial resources.
Douglas said he was the ideal person to expand the party as he pointed out that there was conflict between Ramadhar and Seepersad-Bachan which they have no solutions in resolving.
Ramadhar said there was less than a year to go before the 2015 general elections and the COP does not need “OJTs” at the leadership helm.
He said he shuddered to think what the politics would be like today if the party had a leader who was quarrelsome.
Ramadhar said the patience he exercised as leader worked for the benefit of the COP.
He said the party needs Seepersad-Bachan and Douglas in its fold to work but needs a leader with experience.
“The next year is going to be possibly the most dangerous year for the survival of this party and the partnership,” said Ramadhar adding that the COP needs a person who was willing to give his life.
“From the day I entered the COP, I never left it for a single day,” said Ramadhar as he urged the people to vote for him and he promised to love and embrace all.
Polling stations are open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.