COUVA South MP Rudranath Indarsingh has accused Education Minister Anthony Garcia of cursing and threatening him, allegations which Garcia have denied. “What kind of example is the Minister of Education setting for the children of TT?” Indarsingh asked rhetorically.
During parliamentary debate yesterday, Indarsingh told Newsday at about 1.10 pm, he was in the tea room having a normal conversation with his colleagues’ Fyzabad MP Lackram Bodoe and Mayaro MP Rushton Paray. He said Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds was standing with D’Abadie/O’Meara MP Ancil Antoine. He recalled Hinds came across to them and they engaged in cordial laughter.
“And then Minister Garcia walked in to the tea room and MP Hinds indicated (me) to him and in the most loud, threatening and intimidatory of manners (Garcia said), ‘I don’t want to have no effing thing to do with he and so.’ It was in the full glare and everybody could have listened to what he said.
“And I considered this an act of provocation, threatening and I did retort and indicate that no one will attempt – whether it is Prime Minister, nobody in the PNM – to beat me into submission in representing the interests of my constituents re the Balmain Presbyterian Primary School and the Government’s failure to deal with the Sonny Ladoo Early Childhood Education Centre. I told him in no uncertain manner, if he cannot deal with the pressures of the job, don’t attempt to intimidate me.”
Indarsingh said he intended to report the incident to the Speaker formally in writing. In a telephone interview, Garcia described Indarsingh’s claims as “totally false. I was engaged in innocent banter.” Garcia said he told Indarsingh he was disappointed with him, especially as they came from the same alma mater, and the discussion became heated.
“I never threatened or cussed. I cannot remember the last time I used obscene language. I categorically deny it.” Garcia said it was normal, innocent banter they have on occasions in the tea room. “I cannot engage in any threats,” he added. Asked if he was concerned about Indarsingh’s plan to write a report to the Speaker Garcia said that was up to Indarsingh. “I am concerned about the truth.”
In 2004, then MP Chandresh Sharma accused then Housing Minister, now Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley of physically assaulting him in the tea room, but in April the following year the Privileges Committee found there was not sufficient evidence to support the allegation.