FORMER prime minister Basdeo Panday, who said he was instrumental in assisting Arthur NR Robinson in being appointed prime minister and president, today offered condolences to the Robinson family.
However, Panday said he would not be attending Robinson’s funeral service.
Robinson, who had been ailing for several months, passed away at the St Clair Medical Centre at around 6 a.m yesterday. He was 87.
Panday said: “A loss of any human being is a loss to all humanity, and in that sense I express my condolences to his surviving family. As you know, I was instrumental in him becoming both prime minister and president. But I think that issue would not be as kind to him, for some of the things he did while in office.”
In 1981, Robinson joined forces with the United Labour Front (ULF) under the leadership of Panday and the Tapia House Movement under the leadership of Lloyd Best to form the National Alliance. This group entered an accommodation with the Organisation for National Reconstruction under the leadership of Karl Hudson-Phillips to fight (and win) the Local Government elections of 1983. Building on this victory the four parties combined to form the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) which won the 1986 elections by a margin of 33-3 and Robinson was appointed the first non-Peoples National Movement prime minister.
Robinson sparked controversy during his presidential term when he bypassed Basdeo Panday and appointed opposition leader Patrick Manning as prime minister following the tied 2001 general election.
Panday said: “It is an issue he (Robinson) dealt with and he dealt with it in a particular way, and that’s it. There is nothing one can do about that. I don’t have anything against anybody and I am not powerful enough to forgive anybody for anything and there is no need for me to do so anyway.”
Panday said he could not think of anything that could be done to pay homage to Robinson, and there was no reason to attend his funeral. However, he said there was no animosity towards Robinson.
“I do not have a spiteful bone in my body. During my political life, I had no political enemies. I only had political opponents,” Panday said.
In, May, 2011, the Crown Point International Airport in Tobago was renamed the ANR Robinson International Airport by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar who took over the leadership of the United National Congress (UNC) from Panday.