Attack on Gandhi Statue raises Concern among Richmond Hill Indians
An opinion survey being conducted for the North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) on the June 26 UNC internal elections to choose a new national executive committee shows Kamla’s (Persad-Bissessar)’s slate of candidates, the Star Team, sweeping all the positions. The poll is being conducted by Dr Vishnu Bisram.
The poll finds limited interest in the UNC internal election because the public does not see the UNC, as currently constituted, posing a serious challenge to the PNM. Almost every party member as well as supporters of the UNC and swing voters say they are not pleased with the composition of the Star Team slate, not viewing it as a viable alternative government in the waiting to replace the ruling PNM with which there is growing and widespread disenchantment.
The public complains about what they describe as deteriorating conditions in the country and not attaching much importance to UNC internal election. They do not hold much hope in the UNC defeating the PNM. The general feeling among everyone interviewed is that Star Team will win all the positions in the internal elections although there are complaints about the fairness of the electoral process. Members of the UNC are afraid to go up for positions saying they are afraid of being attacked and that the electoral process is not fair with many describing it as “a sham exercise”.
The Star Team is being challenged in only three positions – Party Leader by Dr. Fuad Khan against incumbent Kamla Persad Bissessar, Party Organiser by former Minister Dr. Glen Ramadharsingh against Ravi Ratiram, and Election Officer by former Minister Ramona Ramdial against Don Sylvester. The trio are contesting for executive positions as independents; they do not have a joint slate and all three are expected to go down to defeat.
Members and supporters of the UNC and the public at large say it is a virtual no contest. The three opponents to the Star Team have been putting up a brave fight and are saluted by the public for their courage to challenge the status quo. People praise the trio everywhere, but they are expected to fall way short of even coming close to defeating the incumbents.
Concerns are mentioned about the fairness of the electoral process – recent membership drive and transparency of the membership list. The public fees the election is meant to produce a certain outcome, which does not find much favor among party supporters and floating voters who are critical for a change in government in the twin island republic. Almost everyone feels the current executive and the new one that will emerge is not likely to pose a threat to the ruling PNM.
Turnout in the UNC internal election is projected to be very low because of the virtual no contest and the lack of interest in and low favorability ratings by members in most of the contestants. Voters do not feel Star Team, as a body, pose a serious challenge to the PNM. While there is high disapproval ratings for most of the candidates in the Star Team, Kamla remains very popular among loyalist members and will win re-election by a landslide; she has long coattails that will take her team to victory. Many supporters feel that if Kamla were not leading her slate, several of the candidates would have faced challengers and faced certain defeat. There is public rebuke of several members of the Star Team who are most unpopular among voters. Dr Fuad Khan, Ramona, and Glenn are giving the incumbents a good fight rather than making the three positions a walk over; all three are popular among party supporters but lack enough membership support to win their posts. The number of votes the trio received would give an indication of the extent of public dislike for the Star Team.
Concerns are also mentioned by members and supporters of the opposition party and voters in general about whether the projected UNC victorious team of executives can defeat the PNM in the next general election due just over three years. Almost every party supporter and the unaligned floating voters as well as the population at large do not feel the UNC can defeat the PNM if a general elections were called anytime soon.