COUVA South MP Rudranath Indarsingh is asking whether or not Clarence Rambharat resigned as Agriculture Minister because of allegations of land ownership involving Youth Development and National Service Minister Foster Cummings.
Speaking at the UNC's weekly Sunday press briefing at the Office of the Opposition Leader, Charles Street in Port of Spain, he said the matter was a “sordid affair" which lies at the doorstep of the Prime Minister.
He said current Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Kazim Hosein and Minister of Energy Stuart Young may have questions to answer.
A Sunday Newsday report referred to a UNC meeting on Thursday at which Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial read from a 2019 Special Branch secret report which raised several issues involving Cummings who was a government senator at the time, regarding the use of three companies to get business done with government entities including the Housing Development Corporation (HDC).
“While all of the allegations are damning, of key concern to me were the allegations of land grabbing for commercial and personal gain, apparently within the constituency of Couva South,” Indarsingh said.
He added that it appeared the Prime Minister had unleashed a serial land-grabber on constituents of Couva South.
He said the allegations did not come from a political document but rather a document dated July 5, 2019, from the office of the Assistant Commissioner of Special Branch.
“It is instructive to note that this morning, three days after the report was revealed, no one from the TTPS or Minister of National Security Hinds have denied the conduct of such an investigation or the existence of such a report,” Indarsingh said.
“One would imagine, if this investigation had never taken place and that if the report was not authentic and if the Opposition claims were not true and its concerns not justified, by now the acting police commissioner would have said so.”
Indarsingh said it was now on Cummings to provide proof that he has committed no wrongdoing on issues arising in the Special Branch report. Last Friday, Cummings held a press conference in which he denied any wrongdoing.
Holding up his copy of the Sunday Newsday, Indarsingh referenced that paper's lead story in which former police commissioner Gary Griffith said he personally handed the 2019 police report on Cummings to Rowley.
“We have to ask, what did the Prime Minister do when he got this report,” Indarsingh said.
He also asked if the Cummings report was linked to Rambharat's abrupt resignation as a minister and government senator.
“The nation will recall that former minister Rambharat in speaking about his resignation, indicated he had learned of senior public officials being involved in land-grabbing and was assisting police to investigate those who may have been guilty of such an offence,” Indarsingh said.
He said the country needed to know why Rambharat chose to run from Rowley’s Cabinet and if there are Special Branch reports on others in the Government.
He also wondered if Rambharat was forced out so as to protect other people within Government.