Former government minister Devant Maharaj has signalled he will contest the United National Congress (UNC) internal election, scheduled for next month.
However, he said he’ll only do so based on the response he gets from party chairman Peter Kanhai to his letter, sent yesterday, requesting information on the election.
The UNC’s election for political leader and its national executive is due in November 2020.
Maharaj said he became interested in contesting the internal election after Political Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s “insulting words” at a virtual meeting when she referred to members as “ants” and other insects.
In his letter to Kanhai, Maharaj expressed concern over what mechanisms the party will put in place to treat with Covid-19 and the election.
He suggested that consultations be held with the Ministry of Health and the Commissioner of Police to ensure compliance with the prevailing health regulations that may prevail at that time.
Maharaj further listed several questions, including what is the contemplated date or range of dates in which the election may be conducted.
Maharaj, a former transport minister under the Persad-Bissessar-led People’s Partnership government, also questioned when will the membership list be made available to persons contesting the election.
Maharaj told the Express that based on Kanhai’s response he will make his decision.
He said he wants observers for the election to ensure transparency because on too many occasions he heard allegations of “election rigging”.
Maharaj said he also awaits to see whether he will be able to have access to the party’s membership list in order to effectively campaign.
He further expressed concern and questioned what measures are being taken to mitigate against possible conflicts of interest with members of the present national executive who also hold positions as Members of Parliament.
He noted that Dave Tancoo and Anita Haynes are sitting members of Parliament and remain party executive members contrary to the UNC constitution.
Asked whether he will mount any legal challenges, Maharaj said no.
“If it was PNM (People’s National Movement) I would take them to court, this is a political issue and it has to be dealt with politically, it’s not a legal issue as it is never my intention to take the UNC to court, as a member I can’t do that,” he said.
Maharaj has requested Kanhai respond to his letter in seven days.
The Express tried to contact Kanhai but calls to his phone went unanswered.