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Thursday 19 September 2019
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Panday celebrates 86 with a political party

Former prime minister Basdeo Panday celebrates his 86th birthday with wife Oma at the launch of a new political party called the Patriotic Front led by daughter Mickela at Marie St Chaguanas. PHOTO BY YVONNE WEBB
Former prime minister Basdeo Panday celebrates his 86th birthday with wife Oma at the launch of a new political party called the Patriotic Front led by daughter Mickela at Marie St Chaguanas. PHOTO BY YVONNE WEBB

THERE is a new political party on the horizon and it is being led by a second-generation politician, Mickela Panday, the daughter of former prime minister Basdeo Panday.

The elder Panday was on hand at Marie Street, Chaguanas, yesterday afternoon to witness his daughter launch her new Patriotric Front (PF) party and solidify her dreams to be among the women taking political leadership of this country in the future.

The launch coincided with the 86th birthday of the senior Panday who was joined by his wife, Oma, to stick and blow out a red, white and black cake, emblazoned with the PF heart-shaped symbol with the same national colours. The symbol was designed by John Humphrey, long-standing friend, colleague and co-founder of Club 88 and the UNC, which Kamla Persad-Bissessar now leads.

In his usual candour, Panday remarked, “Today is my birthday and I am having a party – a political party.”

Former prime minister Basdeo Panday celebrates his 86th birthday with wife Oma at the launch of a new political party called the Patriotic Front led by daughter Mickela at Marie St Chaguanas. PHOTO BY YVONNE WEBB

He said many years ago the Piarco International Airport was opened on his birthday as well, “And it turned to be the best airport in the Caribbean.

“It is no coincidence this party is also being launched on my birthday and it will turn out to be the best political party in the Caribbean.”

Asked about the extent of his involvement in this new entity, Panday remarked, “I am the father of the bride.”

Mickela, the only child to follow in her father’s footsteps, both in law and in politics, said the PF had been in the making for one year and four months and was confident the party would make a difference.

She said decisions about contesting the elections, going it alone or becoming part of a coalition of parties, or even the hierarchical structure would be made collectively by a committee that she chairs.

Asked about a third force factoring in TT politics which has historically been dominated by two parties, she said the PF was not about the UNC or the PNM, but about putting people first.

“It is time to unite. It is about country. It is about people."

On the basis of the unity platform, she said PF would be open to all patriots who subscribed to the party’s philosophy, principles and ideas to change the current social and political status quo that exists today. Notwithstanding party affiliation, gender, race, colour, creed or social standing, Mickela said the intention was to build a political force second to none.

“You can’t preach unity and then say this person or that person is not allowed to come in. Then you defeat the purpose of unity," the former Oropouche West MP from 2007 to 2010, said.

In her address before an audience of young and old, Mickela said TT citizens had been crying out for meaningful change, among them, young people like herself.

“We realise that if we really want genuine change then we must become the change that we want to see. Therefore, as we struggle for change, we shall not do as others have done in the past, saying things merely to gain favour, popularity or political power.”

The prime-minister hopeful said PF would not engage in maligning any political party or members with rumours, lies, half-truths and innuendos, but at the same time would not flinch from pointing out wrongs, abuses, corruption, waste and mismanagement.

“We shall be fearless,” she vowed, promising to be solution solvers rather than complainers.

One of the party’s main priorities will be on massive programmes of re-education to develop the human resources, with skills relevant to TT’s needs. She said the present education system was still colonial in its nature and geared towards producing personnel and workers for the metropolitan countries.

Underscoring that the youths are the country’s future, Mickela said they had been alienated for too long and deserve a more meaningful role in the decision-making process and development.

The party will hold its first public meeting next Sunday at a time and venue to be announced.

Patriotric Front and its symbol, The Heart, has been registered with the Election and Boundaries Commission. Mickela said the heart, “is symbolic of the love we share for our country and our willingness to defend it.

"Whilst we do not intend to reinvent the wheel, we intend to do things differently.”

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