One day before prospective candidates contesting the internal UNC elections are expected to submit their nomination papers for verification, one of the potential contenders Vasant Bharath is claiming he is at a disadvantage in the political race.
Bharath said while his political leader used the Monday Night Forum in Couva to launch her campaign, “presumably at the party’s expense”, he is yet to receive the revised membership list among other demands made to the party’s national executive (NATEX).
He said this is severely hampering his campaign and appealed, by letter dated November 7, to the party’s general secretary Dave Tancoo, to urgently adhere to his request and save the party from further controversy. Bharath, is attempting for a second time, to dethrone his political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar when United National Congress (UNC) goes to the polls on November 26 to choose a new leader. The decision to call early election, as Persad-Bissessar offers herself and the party as the alternative to the People’s National Movement government in the next general election, was ratified when the party’s congress met last week Tuesday.
Among the nine “reasonable requests” Bharath is making prior to the election is, that a reputable accounting firm be brought in to ensure the independence, transparency and accountability of the process and that the election rules be published in the media. He is also seeking a membership list of registered voters, their addresses and phone numbers, as well as a revised list of members and proper accounting of ballot papers.
In his November 7 letter to Tancoo, Bharath said he has neither received an acknowledgement of receipt of his earlier letter, nor a response to date.
Bharath told Tancoo, “I know that neither you nor the party would want this election to be shrouded in more controversy than it already has,” in reference to the challenge mounted by Ganga Singh about the legality of the early election and the meeting of the congress according to him, to ratify an illegality.
Tancoo could not be reached by phone, but party chairman David Lee said nomination of candidates would begin on November 8 and close on November 15.
“So he has time. I am sure the reason you could not reach Mr Tancoo is because he was busy preparing the revised list to send it out to Mr Bharath. In the meantime, he could use the list from the last internal election to start his campaign and could continue when he gets the revised list.”
Lee also said he did not consider Bharath’s request for a private auditing firm to be brought in a reasonable request. “You know how much that cost. That is more suitable for a general election and maybe he can make a request to the Elections and Boundaries Commission to bring in a private auditing firm to ensure transparency and accountability in the next election. We don’t need private auditors in an internal party election.”