Former minister Vasant Bharath, who is challenging Kamla Persad-Bissessar for leadership of the United National Congress (UNC), is seeking an urgent meeting with the elections committee as a number of issues he raised with them have not been addressed.
He had written a four-page letter to UNC general secretary Dave Tancoo with a number of requests for the November 26 internal elections including that a reputable accounting firm conduct the election, election rules be published in the media and for him to be provided a list of all UNC members registered to vote as well as their addresses and phone numbers.
Yesterday, Bharath said he had received a letter in response from election management committee chairman Dr Rampersad Parasram but he was extremely disappointed.
“Essentially they had not addressed any of issues we had requested. Clearly we need to make a decision regarding further requests.” He said, for example, the letter did not deal with the issue of an independent elections committees and reinforced the information previously given that the final list would not be available until November 22.
“Clearly a list on the 22nd does not give the prospective candidate much time to utilise the list made available to them.”
Bharath reported seeing leaflets being sent out in support of Persad-Bissessar and this showed her team was working with the list. He noted Persad-Bissessar previously said the list was available at Rienzi Complex to view but questioned how someone could remember 100,000 names and addresses to send out fliers to prospective voters to get them to vote for her. Bharath and Dr Roodal Moonilal both lost to Persad-Bissessar in the 2015 internal election.
Bharath, yesterday, reiterated Moonilal’s claims the election was fraudulently handled. He said he had not seen any in-depth investigations on the last poll.
Parasram, yesterday, said an internal elections committee was outside his remit and would have to be debated by the party.
On allegations of fraud in the previous election, he said they had addressed those that were within the committee’s power, and those they could not deal with, would be in their report to the national executive.
He said in the letter to Bharath the committee pointed out its terms of reference. Parasram said the principle of fairness was part of those terms and they were very careful to ensure every candidate was treated in the same way.
On access to the list, Parasram said the membership committee, chaired by Chandresh Sharma, was responsible for preparing it and only after they had received applications for people who may have been left out or had other issues could they provide the final list. He added they were not providing the list to anyone.
He said they were cognisant of some of the issues raised and needed to be ironed out and Bharath or any other candidate were free to meet with them.
He said the committee will have their next full meeting tomorrow and they set days for training. Nomination day is November 15.