Roodal Moonilal has received the endorsement of former Tabaquite MP Dr Suruj Rambachan as the next leader of the UNC and prime minister.
Speaking at a virtual meeting in Oropouche East on Friday night, Rambachan said he had been a colleague of Moonilal for some time and the ten years he spent with him in Parliament, he learned a lot from him, not only in terms of the management of parliamentary affairs but also in terms of his capacity for building a political institution and for the team he created, especially when he was leader of Government Business in the Parliament.
“He has been given the name tonight ‘the Lion of Oropouche’. I want to tell Rudy something. You are more than a lion. When you roar in Parliament, the PNM gets very ruffled in their seats and they are always looking for someone to respond to Rudy. Rudy is always under their skin. Rudy is the kind of person you require in the Parliament when you have to face those members of the PNM, especially those with caustic mouths like (Fitzgerald) Hinds and others.
“But I want to say something to Rudy tonight. Rudy you are a young man, a man of great courage and determination. You are a person who has a vision for yourself, for this community...but I know you have a vision for Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean.
“And I want to say to you tonight Rudy that I hope I would be alive the day when you become the leader of the United National Congress and have yourself set up to be the Prime Minister. You deserve a position of leadership,” Rambachan said.
He stressed: “That does not mean that I am taking anything away from Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Basdeo Panday are two of the best prime ministers that ever served this country because they both had in their hearts compassion for the people of this country. “They have love for this country and more than ever they simply wanted to see a better quality of life at any cost for the people of Trinidad and Tobago.”
Rambachan said one of the greatest things the UNC has done is to usher in a new generation of leaders.
He said he has often criticised Persad-Bissessar, saying that she takes too long to make decisions.
She would generally reply that this was so because she wanted to hear all opinions, he said.
UNC most diverse party in the country
He said the UNC was the most diverse party in the country.
In every election the UNC attracts a more diverse set of candidates than the PNM.
The UNC works so hard to ensure diversity that at times it had caused “the ire and anger of its supporters” sometimes to the point of raising the ire of its membership to have people from all ethnicities.
“Don’t let people make you feel that your UNC is not a national party and is not attracting votes from all ethnicities...Why people are gravitating towards the UNC is because they are motivated not by race but by the leadership, vision and philosophy of the UNC,” Rambachan said.
He said Persad-Bissessar appointed several people of Afro-Trinidadian ethnicity to act as prime minister, including Jack Warner, Vernella Alleyne-Toppin, Errol McLeod and Marlene Coudray.
She also had ministers of other ethnicities.
He said when the UNC was discussing the appointment of a new president in 2013, the context of the discussion was how to ensure through the appointment that there would be perception that the leadership positions in the country reflect its diversity.
“That is the extent to which sacrifices are made in the UNC to ensure that there is diversity in high offices and that the people are represented in the governance of this country, from every sector,” he said.
Rambachan said the country would not be voting on the basis of Covid-19 but on the belief of which party could best manage the country.
He said the last 48 hours showed that the PNM had mismanaged the pandemic.
He said the UNC left naval assets to man the borders, but they were left to languish under this PNM government, creating porous borders.
Saying that he sat next to Winston “Gypsy” Peters in the Cabinet, Rambachan said: “You can’t trust a man or woman who jumps ship for their own interest. And you can’t trust a political party that just picks up scraps and put them in high positions...The people must make Gypsy and others like him pay the price for jumping ship like that.”