UNC Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday led Opposition mourning over the death of Senate former president Dr Linda Baboolal who had inspired women to become leaders.
"While our hearts are heavy with grief, we are also grateful for all of the years of public service that she has given to our nation and our people.
"Dr Baboolal had the distinction of being the first woman to hold the office of president of the Senate, a position she held with grace and aplomb. She served as an inspiration for women to aspire towards leadership."
Persad-Bissessar was forever grateful for Baboolal's years of public service.
"She has left TT a better place as a result of her dedication to service and national development. May her soul rest in eternal peace."
Baboolal was remembered with fondness, respect and sympathy by two men who had each vied with her for the Barataria/San Juan seat in the House of Representatives in the years before she entered the Senate. Barataria/San Juan MP Dr Fuad Khan in a 95.5 FM radio interview fondly recalled her integrity when he ran against her for that seat in 1995, which he won.
“Although she was opponent, we carried that election with dignity and there was never any personal nasty attacks from any side and I’m grateful for that. She was loved by all her patients.”
However Khan did not think the PNM had treated Baboolal well in her final years. Saying she had largely sacrificed her thriving medical practice to serve in the political sphere, he said wondered whether politics was worthwhile.
In a statement, Khan hailed her as a “daughter of the soil” and a “true patriot.”
“Although we sat on opposite sides of the political divide, Dr Baboolal, being my first opponent upon entering the political arena, was always affable and direct.”
He said in the constituency she displayed a high level of integrity and fair play.
Khan recalled last contacting her on her husband’s 80th birthday.
“Life is indeed short but for the time she was here, Dr Linda Baboolal left a positive footprint, indelibly marked on the lives she touched.”
Wade Mark, Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, deeply lamented that Baboolal had died from as simple a thing as an infection.
“I think with the right combination of equipment and pharmaceutical care she could have been alive today.”
Mark said news of her death had sent a shiver down his spine.
He viewed Baboolal as “a titan, tower of strength, giant of a woman” and as “very humble, compassionate and caring.”
Mark recalled fighting Baboolal for the Barataria/ San Juan seat in 1991, in a three-way fight which she had won.
Later, he was Senate minority leader when Baboolal was in the chair.
“We had a lot of ‘encounters.’” However he said those exchanges were healthy, civilised and dignified. Mark hailed her fairness when she chaired the privileges committee that probed complaints about his allegation of a secret slush fund in the Ministry of Community Development. With the committee tied two-two as to whether to charge Mark or to free him, Baboolal had used her chairman’s vote to free him.
“She represented the epitome of justice, equity, balance and fair play. She was not going to be swayed by any political instruction.” Mark speculated that Baboolal might have paid a political price by siding with claims by former prime minister Basdeo Panday during his Piarco Airport corruption trial that Hindu women controlled family finances.
“She was very humble, compassionate and caring,” Mark said. “She never allowed political differences, tribalism and complexion to discourage her from being your friend and being respectful of your views.” Saying it was unbelievable Baboolal was gone, Mark offered his condolences on behalf of his family and the UNC.