Vasant Bharath and his gullible supporters are contending that Bharath’s election as leader of the UNC will place him in a position to reorganise, revamp and revitalise the UNC into a cohesive and united political force which will place the UNC in a very good position to capture the reins of government in the 2025 general election.

And without blinking an eye they are telling the UNC membership that Kamla Persad-Bissessar could remain as Leader of the Opposition and Bharath could carry on as an effective leader of the UNC in his quest to make the UNC the winning party in the 2025 election.

Every right-thinking and sensible member of the UNC (whether or not they support Persad-Bissessar as the leader of the UNC to take them into government in 2025) knows that having one person as leader of the Opposition (Persad-Bissessar) and another as leader of the UNC (Bharath) is highly unworkable and thus a recipe for disaster and the eventual destruction of the UNC as a political party.

The Leader of the Opposition in Trinidad and Tobago is unusually a potential prime minister in waiting. That person, in order to enjoy the position of primus inter pares, (first amongst equals) as prime minister must be the leader of the party that wins the election.

And the person who is to be appointed Leader of the Opposition must be a member of the House of Representatives who is best able to command the support of the greatest number of the House of Representatives who do not support the government.

For the leader of the Opposition to command the support of the members in the lower house who are not in support of the Government he or she must not only be politically savvy but must possess the wherewithal to persuade them to support him/her. The metaphorical big stick and carrots to win over reluctant members of that House assist in commanding support.

Bharath is not a member of the House of Representative and thus constitutionally he cannot become the leader of the Opposition or prime minister.

The time to contest the leadership of the UNC is not now. The pro-bono advice I dare give to the politically naïve Bharath is to await the 2022 local government election, and if Persad-Bissessar loses ground, then perhaps he will stand some sort of chance in gaining leadership of the UNC and thus influence the selection of candidates for the 2025 general election.

He can catapult himself in a safe UNC seat, for example, St Augustine. And as MP for St Augustine and leader of the UNC he becomes the prime minister of Trinbago if UNC wins the 2025 general election. Is not that your burning ambition, Mr Bharath?

As it now stands, Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC is in strong control of the UNC via the MPs and councillors.

She possesses the metaphorical big stick and the carrots. She is very happy that Bharath is contesting the leadership of the UNC. She can now canvass and campaign to save the UNC from destruction by having a different person as leader of the party and another as leader of the Opposition—the prime minister in waiting.

I dare say to Bharath if there was no contest for leadership of the UNC the turnout of the internal UNC election would be extremely low: and if Persad-Bissessar loses ground in the upcoming local government election in 2022 her position as Leader of the Opposition and prime minister in waiting then becomes shaky. But then again, Bharath will have to “toss-up” with Roodal Moonilal and Jearlean John for the position of leadership of the UNC.

Thus my pro-bono political advice to Mr Bharath is to withdraw from the contest against Persad-Bissessar for leadership of the UNC. You do not stand a snow-ball of a chance in beating her at the internal election.

You should run away from this fight for leadership in order to fight another day. You would destroy your political life in this present battle for leadership and thus end up metaphorically eating dog rice for the rest of your political life.

To me, it appears that you are more of a statesman than a politician.

Politics is not only about who gets what, when, how and why, but the art of timing in the control and acquisition of political power. And in politics nothing succeeds but success.

Mr Bharath, make the sagacious decision of withdrawal from the UNC internal elections and live to politically fight at the appropriate time for leadership.

Israel B Rajah-Khan SC

via e-mail

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