Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 5th 2013 Contents A5
Thursday, December 5, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Is the PNM s replacement of Sen-
ators Pennelope Beckles-Robinson
and Fitzgerald Hinds an election strat-
"That s the purpose of the game,"
political scientist Dr Selwyn Ryan told
the T&T Guardian yesterday in
response to questions.
As to whether it will be a successful
strategy, Ryan said only time would
tell but he found there were "some
"I don t know the people very well,
except Camille Robinson-Regis," he
Ryan was referring to defeated
Chaguanas West PNM candidate
Avinash Singh and former TV6 news
presenter Dianne Baldeo-
Asked to respond to rumours that
Beckles-Robinson was removed by
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley
because she was a potential opponent
in the party s upcoming internal elec-
tions, he said: "I don t think she han-
dled it very well. She jumped the
starter s gun."
Political commentator Michael Har-
ris also said he did not know "who
these people are" and had no clue
whether it would be a good election
strategy. He said the PNM s senatorial
changes were not an earth-shattering
matter and would not affect support-
ers loyalty nor have any significant
impact on non-supporters.
Harris said he doubted whether the
two newcomers would improve the
PNM s chances in the 2015 general
election, since the party had weightier
matters with which to deal.
While appointing young East Indi-
ans might be an attempt to give the
PNM a new face, he said, it was not
a new strategy.
"There have always been Indians
difference in how people perceive the
party," he said.
Harris felt the removal of Beckles-
Robinson was a normal political move
since she was viewed as an opponent.
Political scientist Dr Bishnu
Ragoonath said it was a clear strategy
to entice a wider and younger group
but had concerns about the appoint-
ment of Singh, as it was PNM policy
that "there are no jobs for the boys"
and no political appointments for
defeated candidates. He said Singh s
appointment went against that train
He did not believe the groups Row-
ley was allegedly targeting would
respond in any significant way to the
Political scientist Dr Indira Ram-
persad said Rowley was certainly try-
ing to "broadbase" the party with the
two new faces but she did not think
it would determine votes in 2015.
"The PNM always had a smattering
of Indians but remains an Afro-based
party," she said.
She described appointing Robin-
son-Regis as "revisiting the archives"
of the PNM even though she was a
To Preserve The Balisier (TPTB),
a new PNM caucus group, has
voiced strong concern about party
leader Keith Rowley s modus
operandi and decisions, including
appointing defeated candidate
Avinash Singh a senator, and will
be backing a challenger to Rowley
in upcoming PNM leadership elec-
According to TPTB member Dr
Bose Sharma, the PNM s 2010 St
Augustine candidate, the group
involves mainly East-West Corridor
PNMites who meet regularly with
rank-and-file members and some
General Council members, plus oth-
ers from South and Tobago.
He added: "It s gaining momen-
tum across PNM, since rank-and-
file members identify, as they see
changes in the party in directions
(which are) not fully discussed.
"We will be putting up someone
for PNM s (leadership) elections and
are in the process of finalising this,"
Sharma said, declining to say who.
The name of the group alludes to
the abandoning of the balisier tie by
some PNM MPs, a change headed
by Rowley, though Sharma said it
really focused on the party s philoso-
phies symbolised by its balisier
Asked if TPTB members included
former leader Patrick Manning, he
said Manning was out of the poli-
Sharma also said former PNM
Senator Penny Beckles-Robinson was
not with the group but was "always
aware of many things in the PNM."
The group emerged recently when
members began speaking out on the
PNM s position. Sharma said a move-
ment was developing and TPTB was
waiting to see what else happens
leading into the PNM s leadership
polls, which are expected by next
He said a challenge mounted to
the leadership "will only be a natural
culmination of members concerns.
"Our efforts are in support of
ensuring PNM is well structured to
properly represent T&T before it
offers itself to the rest of the country
to do this.
Sharma, who joined the party in
2006, said he had been involved with
it since he was much younger.
Explaining the group s launch, he
said: "The central focus is the per-
ception that PNM is being taken
down a non-PNM path and abdi-
cating its responsibility to the party s
constitution concerning a lot of the
decisions adjudicated upon by the
"Nobody s against change but in
this case, the concern is how change
is implemented, particularly regarding
discussions on the party floor and
council, rather than changing willy-
nilly, taking it for granted and raising
negative reaction from the ground.
Sharma said many party respon-
sibilities were being given to people
now financing the PNM, though
TPTB members felt policy should be
handled by others.
Sharma added: "The leader is only
listening to a group around him, some
say sycophants, who lack depth of
"The rank-and-file is worried the
leader is imposing his will and views
on the party unnecessarily, with little
consultation, using a decision-mak-
ing process outside the council. This
will blight full PNM resurgence and
Sharma said TPTB members had
tried to speak with Rowley but no
appointment was had. "But we re
still trying," he added.
PNM chairman Franklin Khan was
asked about members concerns and
perception about Rowley s modus
operandi and that he only listened
to a group, including PNM deputy
Rohan Sinanan, Harry Ragoonanan,
south mayor Kazim Hosein and
organiser Andrew Gabriel.
Khan said: "No comment. We have
a central executive meeting this
evening and any issues people have,
they will raise it at that forum."
Beckles didn t answer calls yes-
PNM leader's actions worry new PNM caucus
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Row-
ley is dismissing claims that Pen-
nelope Beckles-Robinson was fired
as a senator because she posed a
direct threat to his leadership of
Rowley responded to questions
yesterday during his last news con-
ference for the year at his office on
Charles Street, Port-of-Spain.
Newly-appointed Opposition sen-
ators --- Avinash Singh, Diane
Baldeo-Chadeesingh and Camille
Robinson-Regis --- were presented
to the media.
President Anthony Carmona
revoked the appointments of Beck-
les-Robinson and Fitzgerald Hinds
as senators from midnight on Tues-
day. They were the most experienced
Opposition senators. Former Oppo-
sition Senator Terrance Deyalsingh
is now the MP for St Joseph.
Many people have claimed on
radio talk shows that Beckles-Robin-
son was removed by Rowley because
she was expected to challenge him
for leadership of the 57-year-old
party when national executive elec-
tions are held early next year.
"That is not the basis on which
the change was made," he said yes-
Rowley said: "In decisions as to
who stays and who goes, one would
take everything into account but the
most important thing is that we are
looking ahead. Whatever we do is
with respect to improving our posi-
tion as we go forward."
He said her removal as a senator
was "not the end of anything" as
Beckles-Robinson remained "a
member of the leadership. She is the
head of the Women s League and
one can hardly get more important
in the PNM than that. She is also
lady vice- chairman of the party.
Rowley said the speculation
regarding her dismissal were "inter-
esting reading, interesting thought
but not the whole story."
If there was one thing he had done
as leader of the party, he said, it
was to "open up the party to give
members full control of its leadership
and prevent incumbents from dom-
inating the internal election process."
Rowley added: "If that is all I have
accomplished in the PNM, then I
will go happily thinking I have made
a significant change." That objective
was accomplished, he said, by the
introduction of the one-man-one-
vote system in the party.
He also said he would be "remov-
ing myself as the incumbent and
creating a vacancy so members ---
for the first time---can determine
who is the best person to lead the
party into the imminent general elec-
tion." Rowley said that right was
never available to PNM members
before he assumed leadership.
He said the matter should not be
personalised. See Page A9
It wasn't because she
posed a threat to me
Rowley on Penny's dismissal:
Removals stir up PNM
The removal of PNM senators
Pennelope Beckles-Robinson and
Fitzgerald Hinds has stirred up
some ripples in the PNM.
The party s central executive
was expected to discuss the sit-
uation last night and the Women s
League, which Beckles-Robinson
chairs, will also meet.
Women s League vice-chairman
Marva Bostic said it was the
leader s prerogative to appoint or
remove "but Mrs Beckles-Robin-
son s post as Women s League
head is elected and nobody can
interfere with that. I support her."
Yesterday PNM executive offi-
cials said while Hinds "will be
moving on to other things" they
were uncertain about Beckles-
Robinson s position.
Hinds is said to be tipped to
mobilise and recruit for the party
and for the Laventille West seat
held by MP Nileung Hypolite,
since Hypolite may be shifted to
Laventille East to replace Donna
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