WITH the UNC expected to wrap up its screening exercise within the next two weeks, there are questions as to whether Princes Town MP Barry Padarath, who is out of the country, may be allowed to face his party’s screening committee.
Newsday was reliably informed that Padarath, who is in Florida, is yet to be screened. However the source could not say if any accommodation could be made for Padarath to undergo a virtual screening, given his special circumstances.
Efforts to contact to contact the party’s hierarchy to establish whether a virtual screening can be arranged to facilitate Padarath, was unsuccessful.
Party sources also said, so far, only in-person screening has taken place with each potential candidate facing the committee headed by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
“There is no virtual screening.”
Last week UNC chairman Peter Kanhai told the Newsday, when they screen candidates for the Princes Town constituency, “I expect that Mr Padarath is going to present himself for screening when that time comes.”
With the borders to TT still closed, unless Padarath who is visiting his daughter Seja Lara Padarath, receives an exemption from government to return home, he may miss the UNC screening if the party is unable to make an accomodation for him.
Padarath left TT shores bound for the USA in March, to visit his daughter, before the borders were closed to stop the importation and spread of the coronavirus.
Since his departure, it has been reported that a close relative of his has become a person of interest in a police investigation regarding a $3 million bank account. According to reports, the relative is a housewife.
Sources said this development has caused the party’s hierarchy to rethink its position to screen him or allow him to be the UNC’s flag bearer in Princes Town.
“We don’t know where this investigation will lead and it could be a risk to the party if he is selected as a candidate,” the source said.
UNC PRO Anita Haynes said she could not speak about Padarath’s issues, neither could she divulge whether he had already faced the screening committee. She said she was not in a position to say either if there was an interest among other party faithfuls to contest the seat.
Kanhai was also non-committal about other candidates, saying he was yet to see a list of all the nominees. He said that would happen only when the screening committee was ready to screen that constituency.
The UNC has named ten candidates to contest the general election so far. To date only three of the 18 incumbents have been screened. They are Fyzabad MP Dr Lackram Bodoe, Pointe a Pierre MP Dr David Lee and Naparima MP Rodney Charles.