By Kinnesha George-Harry
Prime Minister and Political Leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM), Dr Keith Rowley, has accused the Opposition United National Congress (UNC) of using the race card to gain support for the 2020 elections.
Speaking at a PNM public meeting at the Mason Hall Secondary School on Tuesday night, Dr Rowley also claimed that only half of the UNC supports Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar to lead the party into the upcoming general elections and that this has sparked her into election mode.
“The time would come for elections, but what shocked me is that the biggest point that same out of last night’s (Monday) meeting of the UNC is that Mrs Persad-Bissessar accused the PNM, we’re not involved in any bantering with them… but they accused the PNM of operating the country based on race.
“So as you resort to race, you think the people so stupid they wouldn’t see it, you blame the PNM who is not even in the race with you, we’re not even in the gayelle with you, is you alone out there campaigning for elections and I ask, Kamla is that you?”
On Monday night at the UNC first Monday Night forum for 2019 at the Brazil High School in the La Horquetta/Talparo constituency, Persad Bissessar called for all races in the nation to unite against the “wicked” government and their elite “friends and financiers.”
She accused Government of using race politics to divide and rule, and distract from the fact that it has done nothing to develop the country in the past three and a half years.
“This tit-for-tat racial issue must stop, and stop now,” Persad-Bissessar told supporters.
Rowley, in his address to supporters at the Mason Hall meeting, recalled being snubbed by the Opposition when he accepted an invitation to the Divali Nagar last year, that Persad-Bissessar and her ‘UNC croonies’ refused to attend because he was there.
“They have the gall now to come on a platform in this country and use race as some political decider, and worse than that, she is now suddenly the defender of black people in Trinidad and Tobago, of African people. She suddenly discovers that the slave master didn’t give us nothing when they put us off the lands and we don’t have any lands and she is going to make sure that black people get lands in Trinidad and Tobago.
“I’m simply responding to what has been put on the table as the politics of this country. She for five years oversaw land distribution in Caroni… she must tell us how much she gave African people. She and (Roodal) Moonilal created a programme called Land for the Landless and gave out lands to their constituents only, not a soul in Diego Martin, in Port of Spain, in Tunapuna got one foot of that land but some handler of hers tell her that this is an emotive issue and black people want land so come on the platform and offer to give them land and all sins are forgiven...
“Kamla, we would never forget you,” he said.
Rowley said his responsibility was to stand by his people and country.
“… And anybody who comes to you and encourages you not to vote and not to take part because the government ent giving you this or this government ent giving you that… there is a role for the Government and there is a role for you and one of the most important roles you have is to choose who manages the affairs of the country and some of them have disqualified themselves, we know exactly where they are coming from.
“… I make no apologies to anybody, this is my country, you are my people, and Trinidad and Tobago is depending on us,” he said.