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Panday to people: Take back your party

By Nikita Braxton-Benjamin

FOUNDING member of the United National Congress Basdeo Panday yesterday called on former Caroni workers and farmers to re-claim the party.

Speaking to the group at a meeting held at Rienzi Complex, Couva yesterday to discuss their land leases, Panday said to take back the party, they should demand that internal elections be called in the party.

He also told them that they have to contest the election and ensure that it is conducted fairly.

He said should fair election fail, they could feel free to seek his advice on a plan B.

“I am here to point a way. A new way to govern yourselves and for you to be able to determine your own way forward. But before you can do that, you must take back your party. Take back what is yours. You must take back what you gave birth to. You must take back what you gave your blood and your sweat and your tears,” he said.

He said the Government continued to treat former Caroni workers as indentured servants but told them, “The time has come for you to stand up and protest. You see my brothers and sisters, they treat you like dogs because they know that you will be satisfied with bones,” Panday said.

Panday again called for constitutional reform saying that should be done before the next general election.

He yesterday described the distribution of land leases by the government as a “con game” as the lands could be taken back from them should there be “the slightest breach.”

Panday closed his address with a quote from freedom fighter Nelson Mandela who passed away last week.

He described Mandela as one of the greatest sons of Africa and said one of the lessons he learned from him was, “If you believe in something strongly enough, you will fight for it and if you fight for it long enough, you will win.”

Attorney and former UNC member Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj also spoke at the function and called on the government to distribute deeds to the former Caroni workers as the leases they had been giving had no worth.

Maharaj said he planned to meet with a group called Democracy Watch and should the workers not be given deeds and their money returned, legal and political action will be taken against the government.

Leader of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) Jack Warner attended the meeting and said he was impressed with the meeting and that the objectives were well laid.

He said, “They made the point that the UNC of today is not the UNC that they belonged to... I never left the old UNC, I left the Kamla (Persad-Bissessar) UNC... The ILP was formed in protest against the Kamla (Persad-Bissessar) UNC... Once the (internal) elections are fair I don’t think the present office holders could ever win.”

He said that should the old UNC return, it will determine whether the ILP is relevant. But Warner said as long as the Persad-Bissessar-led UNC existed the ILP will be relevant.

ILP deputy leaders Lyndira Oudit and Anna Deonarine and Bank and Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU) Vincent Cabrera sat in the audience during the meeting.

They, along with Warner, Panday and Maharaj, all attended a private function following the meeting.
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