Incumbent chairman of the PNM Tobago Council Stanford Callender has described the campaigning in Sunday’s internal elections as “intense.”
Speaking with members of the media as he emerged from his polling station at the Bethesda Multipurpose Facility, Plymouth, on Sunday, Callender gave the campaigns over the last three weeks by all the candidates an “A grade.”
He said,"If what I’ve seen in people’s intensity, their focus, their strategies to win… if we can collate our efforts after this internal elections, we are going to be unbeatable in this place called Tobago. A-Class campaign by all the candidates.”
Many people have labelled the campaign as savage saying it might weaken the party but Callender begged to differ.
“I won’t support that. Interestingly, I found the first internal elections was more vicious.
"(For) this one, people, based on the experience, they might have taken some different approaches but I don’t think that this one was as vicious as the first one. I remember the first one, there were more candidates contesting the political leader’s position.
“I have seen some talent come to the fore especially among young people speaking. Most of them would have been on a platform for the first time. I said, 'But this is great, I can now prepare myself for retirement because the party is in good hands.'”
He believed the election exercise had done a lot for the party.
“I’ve always said from the first time and this time, our strength will be the test after as we try to heal.
“There has to be some healing. Once we’re able to manage that, we’re off and running.”
Should he retain the chairman position, Callender said he would continue to do the things he had been doing.
“On the first occasion when I became chairman, I discussed with Mr Charles, the political leader, that we needed to begin the healing by incorporating some of the persons that contested and lost. I was the one charged with the responsibility to make the call.
“I recognised that we are one party, so we have to do what is best in the interest of the party.”
He added: “I am willing to work with any member of the PNM.
"I am in the fortunate position where I know every individual who is contesting on every slate in this party. I am here to work.”
Commenting on the relatively large amount of money spent during the campaign even with general elections and Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections around the corner, Callender was confident.
“In terms of the funding, I can only assume that most of the funding you see in the campaign were generated by the candidates seeking political leaderships themselves. That is why I said, if all those efforts for this internal election can be put in place for a general or a Tobago House of Assembly, nobody can beat us.