Ravi Ratiram

NOMINATION DAY GREETING: United National Congress Couva North candidate Ravi Ratiram exchanges greetings with People’s National Movement Couva North candidate Sharda Satram outside the Elections and Boundaries Commission’s offices on Ramsaran Street, Chaguanas, on nomination day last Friday. —Photo: AZLAN MOHAMMED

UNITED National Congress candidate for Couva North Ravi Ratiram says he has never tasted alcohol. He made this point as he addressed allegations swirling around him of alleged involvement in brothels and sex rings.

He categorically denied any such associations in an interview with the Express last Thursday and laid the blame for such “falsehoods” at the door of the PNM.

“Emailgate- The Revised Edition,” was one of his cryptic responses.

“You know the PNM has always had a history of peddling misinformation. And a perfect example of that is Emailgate, when their leader (Keith Rowley) went to the Parliament and made erroneous statements under the cover of parliamentary privilege, and after many years of investigation we find out it was an entire fabrication,” Ratiram stated.

To the references on Facebook associating him with brothel activities, he said: “Have you seen any posts with a real name or a real person? Someone brought something like that to my attention some time ago from a completely fake profile. It was not a profile of an individual. My response to that person and my response to you is that during this silly season...you will find the PNM coming with all sorts of fake information and fake news that no one is actually taking ownership of, to mislead and distract the population from the real issues affecting them, which are this Government’s failures with respect to infrastructure, with respect to keeping the country safe and secure, its responsibility for the high crime rate, the high unemployment rate, the Government’s failure to invest in the youth and in agriculture. They even failed to deliver the LED light bulbs promised in the last budget by the Minister of Finance. The country and the economy have become stagnated under this PNM Government. So the PNM has to resort to peddling misinformation.”

Why the allegations now?

Pointing out that he has been an alderman since 2016, an unsuccessful candidate in 2007 and in 2015, Ratiram said it was curious that these allegations had only surfaced now.

He said it was because people knew that he was going to be in a position this time to influence national development and policies and “to protect our communities and our youth”. “You now have a safe seat. They always say idle minds are the devil’s workshop. And that negative energy and stories are being constructed and fabricated inside the devil’s workshop,” he said, reinforcing his “categorical denial”.

Driving home his point that he is not involved in any unseemly activities of the kind being alleged, Ratiram said he has participated in walks against domestic violence, walks with the Society for CV and Inherited Blood Disorders and considers the late Waveney Charles his “second mom”.

Ramona on board

Ratiram is separated from his wife and has two daughters. His mother has always been a homemaker, his father, who passed away in 2016, was a car salesman and a part-time taxi driver. Ratiram, who sold lollies and ice-cream, pushing a cart through Santa Flora, Quarry Village, Vessigny and La Brea while he studied for his engineering degree, said he understands the pain and sacrifice many youths go through to achieve their goals and believes this understanding would serve him well as MP.

On persistent calls from elements in the Couva North constituency to bring back former MP Ramona Ramdial, he said when he became the candidate he spoke to Ramdial. He told her that he would love her to be part of the campaign in Couva North, but since it is a seat that he is confident the UNC would win, he suggested that she would add a lot more value in constituencies where the victory is not as assured.

“She fully agreed with me and she has given me her full support and sent the message out endorsing my candidacy. The constituency executive and all the councillors have been fully supportive from day one. The MP has left a very good party structure,” he said, adding that he was certain that those who were still demonstrating (in support of Ramdial) would come on board.

A farmer and soca artiste

Ravi Ratiram attended Rousillac Hindu Primary, Point Fortin Senior Comprehensive and Siparia Senior Comprehensive before going to San Fernando Technical Institute.

A graduate of YTEPP, he holds a degree in Computer and Electrical Engineering from The University of the West Indies and an MBA in leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation from the University of Anglia Ruskin, in the UK.

He describes himself as a businessman. Currently he is planting crops. “I have an acre of melongene to reap and this week I planted a acre of sweet potatoes,” he said.

Asked whether he was happy for the $90 million agro-processing plant in Moruga which the Prime Minister opened last week, he said nonchalantly: “We are always happy.”

He countered, however, that the Government failed to open the Namdevco Packaging House and the Woodford Lodge Packaging House which had been built by the People’s Partnership.

Ratiram, 43, has been the UNC’s party organiser since 2015. He was actively involved with the anti-smelter movement. He became the UNC’s candidate for La Brea in the 2007 general election and, in 2015, he was the UNC’s candidate for Point Fortin, both of which he lost. During the PP administration, he has served on the board of directors at TSTT.

He describes himself as a nation builder who is proud of his involvement in the entertainment industry. “As a soca artiste, you can find me on YouTube as Double R (his sobriquet). I have completed five singles and won the La Horquetta Carnival Committee Soca Monarch Champions of the East with my song ‘Coming Home’. My national song, which has been well received, is called ‘Carry yuh flag’. You should look it up on YouTube,” Ratiram said.

In addition, he said: “I am a cancer survivor, having being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma back in 1996 and since then my entire life has been dedicated to uplifting country and uplifting people.”