She’s yet to formally announce her decision to establish a new political party but attorney and newspaper columnist Mickela Panday is not ruling out the possibility of becoming Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago in the future.
“That is a matter for the people,” Mickela said in a Sunday Newsday interview when asked if she bore such aspirations.
“My ambition is to contribute to making this society a better place for all of us to live in,” was all she would say on the issue.
Mickela, daughter of former prime minister and United National Congress (UNC) founder Basdeo Panday, was the centre of attraction at Gaston Court, Chaguanas, last Sunday, when her family hosted a “meet-the-people” forum to gauge public feedback on the serious challenges confronting the country.
Emerging out of the forum was a consensus on the need to establish another political entity to contest the 2020 general election.
However, there were those, including a few UNC and People’s National Movement (PNM) observers, who expressed scepticism about the move, saying Mickela must first seek a consensus from across the country.
Should there be a favourable response, Mickela believes a new political party would be embraced whole-heartedly by the majority of the populace “because the majority of the voting population is dissatisfied with the performance with both the Government and the Opposition.”
Mickela said she was concerned about, what she considered to be, the rapidly decaying state of the politics in TT and the frustration being experienced by a large majority of young people with the political process. Pressed on whether she intended to form a political party, Mickela, who said she remained “overwhelmingly positive” because of the response so far, would only add: “The majority of the people attending think we should.”
Asked what qualities she would bring to the table as political leader of her own party, Mickela said: “Involving of the people in the decision-making processes of the Government and, particularly, accountability of the Government to the people from day to day.”
As for its vision, she said: “The happiness of all people and to end the historically debilitating division of our people.”
If and when it becomes a reality, Mickela would continue in the vein of her legendary father, who served as prime minister from 1995 to 2001, and uncle Subhas Panday, a former MP.
Mickela, an attorney, served as the Member of Parliament for Oropouche West from 2007 to 2010.
However, when screenings began for the 2010 general election, she was not chosen to contest the seat which was instead given to engineer Stacy Roopnarine.
Some in the UNC camp saw this as an outright attempt by the party’s new leadership, under Kamla Persad-Bissessar, to do away with the Panday influence in its affairs.
Gauging feedback from UNC MP Dr Fuad Khan in March, Mickela maintained Persad-Bissessar had no interest in meeting with her and other party members with a view to uniting the party.
The UNC leader is said to be displeased with, what she perceives to be, Mickela’s criticisms of the manner in which the party was being led.
There have been calls in some quarters for Panday and others to return to the UNC to give the party a stronger footing to challenge the PNM in the next general election.
For the most part, Mickela kept a low public profile after her failed bid to re-contest the Oropouche West seat in 2010.
However, she has remained vigilant on the issues confronting the country.
With a murder toll of 219 for the year so far, Mickela said crime and the safety of the population was the country’s most pressing challenge.
She also listed an exceedingly high food import bill, unemployment and the inability of the Government to solve the basic problems affecting the vast majority of citizens as being among some of the other concerns.
She also expressed concern about the Government’s ability to organise the society and the economy in a way that ensured that citizens and residents were happy. On whether her father will have a role in the new party, Mickela would only say: “That would depend on him.”
She said she was extremely grateful for the love and support she had received from him during her years as Oropouche West MP.
“He has been a positive inspiration, not only during those years but all of my life.”