Candidates in the UNC— especially new ones—need to embrace and respect the teams they’re working with to bring home their seats.
UNC chairman Peter Kanhai issued this notice yesterday when asked by Guardian Media about issues which have arisen during the campaign after candidates were announced. There were candidate changes in 10 seats and there’ve been some concerns on the ground.
Last Saturday, an SOS went out to the party from Cumuto Manzanilla activists to change their candidate— Rai Ragbir— following a clash last Friday.
Activists attempted to report an incident to Ragbir—where some executive members during a Coryal walkabout had “thrown words” at a female activist.
The group, who requested the matter be dealt with, got a negative response to their concerns, they claimed and they ended up peacefully walking out of the office—but feeling there was no concern or respect for their views, expertise or input over the years.
Several said they were also disturbed by the warning “shot” flung their way that all who left, did so “at their own peril.” The group requested a meeting with the leader. Top officials spoke with them.
Yesterday, Kanhai said, “We’re taking heed of any issues or complaints as we become aware of them and immediately send a team from the party hierarchy to investigate and treat with whatever issues and discontent there may be.’’
“We’ve instructed candidates to embrace everyone when they enter constituencies. Especially if they’re new, they’d meet teams that have been there before they were announced and they need to embrace and respect those people who are the UNC’s backbone in those constituencies.”
“We’re acutely aware that in elections, there would be some people who are disappointed and we treat with all those people – this is a situation where we need all hands on deck,” Kanhai said acknowledging all UNC activists are important.
After last Saturday’s rounds of UNC walkabouts including in San Fernando West and Port- of- Spain North, Kanhani was also asked about the perception that UNC walkabouts and public events have been showing faces beyond traditional party support and they included faces that might at one time have been classed as traditional PNM supporters. This has been noted in Moruga and San Fernando West events.
Sean Sobers is UNC’s San Fernando West candidate. Darren Garner is the Port-of-Spain North candidate.
San Fernando West is one of the handful of marginals increasingly eyed closely as a possibility to determine election outcome. Two weeks ago, the T&T’s political column had cited San Fernando West along with Moruga, Tobago East, Toco/ Sangre Grande and others to determine victory.
Kanhai said, “If you lay out many of the pictures from our walkabouts and public events, you’ll certainly see that the faces aren’t just UNC people alone. This shows that UNC represents a complete picture of T&T, and that we’ve penetrated all sectors.’’
“The other side of the story is that it shows how fed up people are with the PNM, even despite all of the long talk that the PNM delivered in Diego Martin on Saturday night. It’s too late for the PNM to talk now—so we’re confident.’’
Kanhai spoke as he prepared for yesterday’s first motorcade by UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar in her Siparia constituency.