If elected political leader of the United National Congress (UNC) in the November 26 internal election, Christine Newallo-Hosein said, yesterday, her first order of business would be to heal the rifts within the party.
“At the end of the day, when the election is over, the healing process must begin,” she told Newsday a day after news broke that she had decided to contest the election.
“If we just say we dealing with today and we don’t deal with tomorrow or beyond, we could do more damage to the party than good. And so for me, it will be the healing process. What I do now, it is with the understanding there is a healing that must take place.”
Newallo-Hosein said she supported the view of contender Vasant Bharath that the party was fragmented.
“Vasant had indicated concerns and I think his concerns are very real.”
The Cumuto/Manzanilla MP claimed when the framers of the UNC constitution decided to separate the leadership election from the national executive election, it was with that purpose in mind.
“They felt if you had the leadership contesting with the executive, that the aspiring political leader would have been able to say, ‘I chose this slate over that slate because I could work with this group rather than that group.’
“This is where the fragmentation starts, and it has always continued, as a result of that.”
A former minister of the People and Social Development, Newallo-Hosein claimed the fragmentation within the party continued when Winston Dookeran contested the UNC leadership.
“The party has been fragmented ever since. You had falling away. But the answer is not in falling away but to stay in and fight for what is right in the party and not outside of the party.
“This is why I am saying there is a lot of hurt and dissension, discord, because people are unable to articulate how they feel. Once they do so, they are sidelined, and it is unfortunate.”
Newallo-Hosein said it was important to strengthen the arms of the party within constituencies “so that no matter who comes in as political leader, you have the framework that will sustain the values and strengths of the party for it to remain solid.”
She said she had not heard from her challengers – incumbent political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Bharath – since filing her nomination papers.
She intended to run a clean, “on the ground” campaign, she said.
“At the end of the day, I work with my political leader and I will never disrespect her. It is important for us to know that we can all contest the same position without being mean and nasty to each other. At least, that is my intention.”
Newallo-Hosein said the response to her candidacy has been overwhelming.
“I have numerous responses. I’ve gotten calls, texts, e-mails, Whatsapp messages, all supporting my decision. People are saying, ‘Take over leadership and we will support you.’
“I have not received any call that has been negative, although I know there are a few detractors out there.”