QUARANTINE has in no way deprived the UNC Princes Town candidate Barry Padarath of campaigning for the August 10 general election.
Padarath said he has been campaigning virtually while in quarantine to the extent that “Princes Town is ready” to return him and the UNC to office.
Nevertheless, Padarath is counting the hours before he exits his confinement to begin his physical campaign.
Taken into secured quarters according to Ministry of Health covid19 guidelines since his arrival from Miami almost two weeks ago, Padarath is expected to depart on Monday once his last test is negative.
His first order of business will be an inter-faith service in his constituency to give thanks for arriving home safely and being selected to represent the constituents for a second term.
He said quarantine has not placed his campaign at a disadvantage as he has been conducting his planning meetings and putting his election-day machinery in place, virtually.
“The ground work is already in effect. Princes Town’s house has been in order a long time ago. The only thing I need to do now is meet my constituents.
"In 2015 I was the last candidate selected and I had 13 days to campaign. This time around I have a similar number of days, but separate and apart from people knowing who I am, my constituents know I have been one of their most vocal and outspoken MPs.”
He said he has stood up for his constituents inside and outside of the Parliament, running the risk of being put out of the House of Representatives on their behalf on many occasions.
Padarath said, thanks to his team, his constituency is so organised he now has time to assist his fellow UNC candidate in the bordering Moruga/Tableland constituency, Michelle Benjamin, to secure her seat against a former UNC colleague Winston “Gypsy” Peters who is contesting for the PNM.
Gypsy has replaced the former PNM Minister in the Ministry of Education Dr Lovell Francis.
Moruga/Tableland was one of five constituencies created after the 18-18 tie, increasing from 36 the number of constituencies to 41 to prevent a repeat of that constitutional impasse. Parts of Princes Town, Ortoire Mayaro and Naparima were taken to form the constituency which was first won by Peter Taylor for the PNM in 2007. Taylor has now thrown his support behind Benjamin.
Challenging Padarath for the control of Princes Town is PNM newcomer Sharon Baboolal. She said under Padarath’s tenure the constituency has been dormant and stagnant.
Padarath said the comment was unfortunate as her party is the government and what she speaks of is a reflection of PNM neglect in rural constituencies like Princes Town.
“I think it is sad and pathetic for the PNM candidate to be casting aspersions on what has or has not happened in Princes Town without doing some introspection as it relates to her party and the party she supports when it comes to rural neglect.”
He said other political contenders believe that Princes Town constitutes only the town area when, in fact, it stretches all the way to Rio Claro.
“They focus only on the town when the vast number of voters live outside of the town. They don’t campaign in areas like St Julien’s and Ridge Road, which are UNC strongholds.”
He said Ridge Road, which formed part of the Ortoire/Mayaro constituency was removed by the Elections and Boundaries Commission and placed in the Princes Town constituency even though there is no geographical connection to Princes Town.
“This is part of the gerrymandering of the EBC and I make no apology for saying that.”
Padarath said he is not afraid of the competition from the other contenders, “because Princes Town is UNC and it will remain UNC after August 10.”