Monday, January 22, 2018

Mahabir: I will never betray Kamla

'Jack has too many questions to answer'


i caN BE TRUSTED: Attorney Ashvani Mahabir, who is contesting the post of UNC Chairman in the party's March 24 internal elections. –Photo: STEPHEN DOOBAY

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Attorney Ashvani Mahabir believes the people should vote him as chairman of the United National Congress (UNC) because, unlike Jack Warner, he can be trusted and would not betray Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissesssar.

Like Satnarayan Maharaj, general secretary of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS), Mahabir also thinks that Warner has too many questions to answer – including why he colluded with the People's National Movement (PNM) to oust Suruj Rambachan from the Chaguanas mayorship.

Mahabir, in a telephone interview with the Express on Saturday, questioned whether Warner was presently colluding with former prime minister Basdeo Panday who is adviser to Generation Next which is fielding a slate of candidates in the internal election.

"It's in the public record...Jack Warner colluded with the PNM, he cannot give a blanket explanation as to why he did it, the thing is here is a person who has colluded with the PNM and it will now become an issue whether we can trust Jack Warner," said Mahabir.

"This election now is one of trust, can we trust Jack Warner to be our chairman because he was colluding with the PNM before, would he do it again? Jack Warner cannot be trusted, that is the point," he added.

"I believe that if Mr Warner is selected as chairman tomorrow, he is capable of colluding with Louis Lee Jack colluding with Louis Lee Sing to bring down the UNC, he colluded with Colm Imbert to bring down Suruj Rambachan," said Mahabir.

Mahabir accused Warner of engaging in "character assassination''. Asked to explain, Mahabir said Warner was questioning his election financing.

"I don't know why Mr Warner has questioned my funding, what Mr Warner has to do is question the funding of Mickela Panday. The Generation Next slate of candidates associated with the Pandays, ironically no one is fighting for the post of chairman," he said.

"It has come to my attention there is a significant degree of collusion between Mr Jack Warner and Mr Basdeo Panday," added Mahabir.

"Basdeo Panday slate is running a full slate with no chairman. UNC Soldiers running a full slate with no chairman, isn't it fishy, isn't it smelly? Someone must question that," said Mahabir.

He added that Sunil Ramjitsingh who is contesting the deputy leader position on the UNC Soldiers slate is a senior research officer in Warner's Ministry.

"Wouldn't it be a reasonable inference that Sunil Ramjitsingh has the backing of his boss who is Jack Warner...and to field a slate of candidates against the incumbent team...If it is Sunil Ramjitsingh so brave to get a job in the Ministry of Works and to defy his Minister, his boss, and field a slate of candidates without his support and consent then something is wrong in our country," said Mahabir. 

"Question why Basdeo Panday, Mickela Panday would suddenly say absolutely nothing wrong about Jack Warner, they have suddenly trained their guns in a different way. Let's ask these questions. That's the kind of enquiry we have to engage in, not to come behind a 39-year-old fellah, I'm a simple guy, I have ideas," he said.

Asked whether it is true that he has the backing of the 'hierarchy' of the United National Congress (UNC), Mahabir said this was not so.

Questioned whether he independently threw his hat in the election race or was asked to do so, he said "I was asked to run by people on the ground. People from Caroni East ask me to support, 100 people from Chaguanas West...I attended a meeting of the parliamentary arm of the UNC probably about a month and a half ago as an observer...before, during and after that meeting I was approached by a lot of people".

Mahabir said he did not have any conversation with the Prime Minister on his intent to contest the election.

"I am 39 years old, I'm an attorney at law and I'm studying now for a Masters in Communications and Public Relations, I feel I have the experience and competencies that can take a party forward, it has nothing to do with Jack Warner," he said. 

Questioned about his vision for the UNC as chairman, Mahabir said he wants to bridge the social and political disconnect between party and people. 

He said with a new executive he can work on devising a formula to achieve this and to also modernise the UNC in keeping with the 21st Century.