Vasant Bharath says it’s on referring to his decision to fight Kamla Persad-Bissessar “manos a manos” for the leadership of the United National Congress (UNC).
He also denied her accusation that he had insulted supporters by referring to them as “sycophants,” saying he was taking aim at bloggers who have the party in a state of unpreparedness.
Persad-Bissessar publicly challenged Bharath to put his money where his mouth is and put his name on the ballot paper and engage her in battle for the second time, at a Monday Night Forum in Couva.
Bharath accused her of bringing the party into further disrepute by using the forum to launch her personal campaign, saying he intends to rescue the party from that shroud of controversy.
“I have every intention of fighting, once the election is free and fair,” the former Trade Minister in Persad-Bissessar’s People’s Partnership administration said in response to the challenge from his leader. “I have every intention of fighting but, I have asked for certain fundamental principles of transparency and accountability to be present in the election process so that my team is not placed at an unfair disadvantage.”
Those requests, including a copy of the revised list of electors, were conveyed in a letter to UNC general scretary Dave Tancoo.
In an e-mailed response to Newsday yesterday, Tancoo said he had responded to the e-mail.
“Further Mr Bharath, through his participation in two previous internal party elections is aware that many of his concerns must and will be addressed by the Elections Management Committee. Still, I have advised Mr Bharath that his correspondence was forwarded to the Elections Management Committee which will respond to him accordingly. “
Bharath claimed the lack of response was impeding his campaign to unseat Persad-Bissessar for a second time.
His first attempt in 2015, saw him place third in a three-way race, with Persad-Bissessar garnering over 18,000 votes, challenger Dr Roodal Moonilal coming in a distant second with 1,800 votes and Bharath bringing up the rear with 1,500. In spite of his poor showing, Bharath is not daunted by the déjà vu expression of many who see no different results in the November 26 internal polls.
Bharath is looking to rebuild team UNC from a party which has lost six elections, into a credible option for government whenever a general election is called.
He received a tongue lashing from Persad Bissessar for his public statement that the UNC cannot win an election if it is called now.
She also accused him of insulting the membership by referring to supporters as ‘sycophants’. Bharath defended his statements.
“I have not insulted the membership. That is a figment of her imagination. I criticized the sycophants, many of whom are paid bloggers, for the irrational positions that they take that keeps the party in a state of unpreparedness if an election is called.”
Bharath said he has a slate and is receiving support from elected members, whose identities remain secret at this time.