POLITICAL leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM) Dr Keith Rowley yesterday said that change has come over the party, as PNM chairman Franklin Khan sought to debunk a theory he said was being aided and abetted by the opposing United National Congress (UNC), that the party was not welcoming of persons of East Indian descent.
Khan said that theory was being led by “certain operatives” in the PNM.
Rowley and Khan addressed an inter-faith celebration of the PNM’s 58th anniversary, before a packed audience at City Hall Auditorium in San Fernando.
Khan, who spoke before Rowley, said: “When I quoted the founding fathers by name, I did so deliberately, because I wanted to draw your attention to two of our founding fathers—Mr Ibib Ibrahim and Mr Kamaluddin Mohammed—East Indian by descent.
“So even in our founding fathers there were East Indians in the PNM. And there are certain operatives in the party, in a gross minority, however, aided and abetted by the UNC, that is pushing a head that the PNM is not welcoming to the East Indian community. I want to debunk that theory once and for all.”
Khan went from the founding fathers of the party, to past and present executive members who were of East Indian descent who have always been welcomed and loved in the PNM.
“As chairman of this party, I want to say that the door is wide open, even wider than before, to every creed and race to find a home in the PNM,” said Khan. “So I say onward to victory, we have an election to win to save Trinidad and Tobago.” Rowley told the party faithful that they ought to accept responsibility to be managers of the people of Trinidad and Tobago, and the changes that were to come.
“As the country has changed, we ask, has the PNM changed? I say yes. Over time, as we move from one milestone to another, the journey is not the same, the view is not the same. As the aging process affects us in life, what we enjoy or appreciate will not be the same...
“The changes we have made are not selfish, they are not malicious. They are made out of an analysis. That is what we have to do to be better and be successful. I have every confidence that when the next general election is called, we in the PNM will satisfy the population that we are the best alternative for the country. And that we will not be in the office based on the failure of others but on the basis of strength of our own political character. And that the population will see us for what we really are–a political party with an integral part in the backbone of Trinidad and Tobago’s landscape.”
The PNM political leader, speaking of the loss of the general election in 2010 to the People’s Partnership, said: “Sometimes we fell, but on every occasion we picked ourselves up and assumed the responsibility. There is no shame in falling. There is no shame in getting up. Today, coming from where we were in 2010, I would hardly be surprised if you agree with me that we are a long way away from where we were. We steered the course and we never get weary.”