CONTROVERSIAL political posters plastered across the island calling on Tobagonians to "vote unity" have triggered a blame game among the three major political parties in TT. The Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) and the United National Congress (UNC) believe the People's National Movement (PNM) is getting involved in dirty politics leading up to the general election on August 10, after the posters were placed on utility poles around the island.
The poster, which includes the PDP and UNC logos, shows UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar giving two thumbs up and calls on the public to "vote unity" and "support Duke for a better Tobago."
The PNM has repeatedly accused the PDP and UNC of collaborating, a claim both have denied. The UNC is not contesting any of the seats in Tobago for the general election.
A PDP media release on Sunday said, "The Progressive Democratic Patriots strongly rejects the dastardly act of attaching the PDP logo to flyers containing an image of UNC's political leader and the UNC's logo. This (Sunday) morning, we discovered these posters plastered across different locations on the island."
PDP deputy leader Farley Augustine told Newsday this is dirty politics by the PNM. "They have littered Tobago East and dirtied Tobago East with several posters...We have made it very clear we have no collaboration with the UNC...so clearly this is some crazily-thought-out plot by the PNM, that's where it's coming from...we are confident it is coming from their camp."
Augustine said, "It's in violation of the Representation of the People's Act that speaks clearly to deliberately posting false information about other candidates and other political parties."
The PDP release said, "The PDP does not believe in the rampant use of paper posters as they are bad for the environment, they are unsightly. We do not believe in making Tobago ugly and nasty. We leave that to the PNM. We are certain that the party that has been littering Tobago with posters is responsible for this evil act."
Augustine said the PDP intends to "stay focused" as the elections are approaching. "We won't be distracted. We have a campaign to run. We have one week from today to work...we do not have time to be distracted by their nasty politics. If they think that is gaining them some votes, let them go right ahead."
Augustine said the PNM was again using the "Calcutta ship" tactic, referring to the controversial phrase used by former PNM official Hilton Sandy in 2013 THA elections.
Augustine said the PDP planned to report the matter to the Elections and Boundaries Commission and the police.
Contacted on Sunday, UNC PRO and candidate for Tabaquite Anita Haynes said it was the first time she was hearing about the poster. She said with the election just about a week away, she was not surprised.
"This is the week before the election, next Monday we will have an election in this country," Haynes said.
"We in the UNC are facing a very desperate opponent in the PNM. They have done nothing for five years, they have presented nothing to the people that will put confidence in them for the next five years, so I am not surprised that they will resort to things like fake news to propaganda politics. That's what we have seen through the duration of this campaign and I am sure it will just escalate this week and we urge all right-thinking citizens to focus on the issues as we lead up to this election."
PNM Tobago Council PRO Kwesi Des Vigned, in an interview with CNC3, denied knowledge of the poster and said it was the PDP behind the move.
"Duke and his followers are at it again. It's no doubt PDP had put out those posters so they can play victim and cry foul. We are not involved, as a party the PNM is not involved with anything of that nature. We wish to distance ourselves and we look forward to an investigation by the EBC," he said.