UNC candidate for Princes Town Barry Padarath has responded to comments made during the PNM's virtual women's platform on Wednesday night, in which voters in his constituency were encouraged to give a "real woman" a chance.
The remarks were made by Padarath's political opponent, PNM candidate for Princes Town Sharon Baboolal, who called on constituents to vote for change by electing a woman.
Referring to the last PNM candidate to win there, she said, "Princes Town, 39 years – I think it's safe to say that after Mrs Amoy Mohammed, it's time to put another real woman in charge."
During a parliamentary sitting in 2015, Padarath was referred to as the MP for "Princess" Town by Sport and Youth Affairs Minister Darryl Smith. The minister was made to apologise.
Newsday spoke to Padarath, who said he did not want to be drawn into a tit-for-tat with the PNM, but accused the party of a "nasty campaign" against him.
"I think it is testimony to the nasty type of politics that the PNM is looking for in Princes Town, and also the type of politics the PNM runs, so when they have no achievements to speak of, they always resort to that. They have dragged my child and myself through the mud, inside and outside of Parliament." But he added, "Nothing they can say or do will deter me from winning the seat."
Padarath said the behaviour of the PNM candidate was unbecoming of a potential leader and blamed the party's conduct on the example set by its leader, noting that the Prime Minister applauded the remarks.
"I saw the meeting and I saw the Prime Minister clapping heartily last night with some of those comments, and whether or not it is directed to me, I will win Princes Town for the UNC. While they are in meetings bad-talking the UNC, the PNM candidate is not on the ground."
He also said despite attacks against him and his family, he was not deterred, and drew strength from the example of the UNC leader.
"I have seen what Kamla Persad-Bissessar has gone through for 23 years in politics. I have seen and heard every single thing they could have said about her on and off the platform, and those things never bothered her. And I always said if she could go through that, well, then, who the hell am I?"
Newsday contacted the Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO), which responded via e-mail, denouncing the remarks, and called for PNM supporters to demand a higher standard from their leaders.
"We at CAISO are ashamed of the PNM Women’s League and its leadership. These sexist and homophobic innuendoes and stereotypes counter a forward-thinking vision for TT.
"Supporters of the PNM must demand better of their leaders and rebuke these divisive tactics and discriminatory remarks. These messages are demeaning and harmful."
The organisation also questioned why PNM candidates were attacking others on the basis of assumptions and stereotypes.
Contacted for comment, Baboolal denied her remarks were not intended as a jab at anyone, but said they reflected her desire to bring a strong, female leader to the constituency to continue the legacy of other female PNM stalwarts.
"All it meant was that I wanted to be a good representative, as I will follow in the footsteps of Mrs Amoy Mohammed and Mrs (Hazel) Manning. I thought that they brought actual action to Princes Town. They developed Princes Town. We got the most work in the constituency under women. and we are just taking the baton from these women. My focus is solely on developing Princes Town.
" I have nothing with Barry and him going up for the seat. I'm just focused on bringing development to Princes Town. I am not on him or any dirty politics."