Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 8th 2013 Contents A6
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt December 8, 2013
An undercurrent of dissent
within the People s National
Movement (PNM) has been
strengthened after leader Dr Keith
Rowley s surprise hatchet took out
two long-time senators, Penne-
lope Beckles-Robinson and
And now an "alliance" against
Rowley is creating rumblings within
the party after his latest move.
While the discord had simmered
quietly since Rowley took the helm
of the party, Beckles-Robinson s
dismissal as a senator last week,
stirred the pot once more.
The Sunday Guardian was told
that the alliance supporting Beck-
les-Robinson (for now) includes
the women s and youth arms of
the party, members of constituen-
cies and supporters of former PNM
leader Patrick Manning. The
remaining Manning supporters, old
school PNM as they call them-
selves, said they were being side-
lined by Rowley as he attempts to
revamp the party and bring in new
They gave eight names of high-
ranking PNM supporters disen-
chanted with the Rowley regime,
two of whom have "deep pockets"
and are waiting in the wings to see
how the leadership race plays out
before they step forward. Until the
date for the internal elections are
called, they are content to wait and
watch how this clash unfolds.
Members of the alliance against
Rowley, which includes leading fig-
ures in various constituencies, have
begun quietly lobbying for other
members to add their support.
They have, however, been doing it
in a sober manner, adhering to the
level of discipline existing within
Hinds promised Laventille
Sources, speaking with the Sun-
day Guardian on Tuesday and again
on Thursday, said Hinds dismissal
was part of a strategic plan hashed
between the two to soften the blow
against Beckles-Robinson in the
public s eye. Hinds, the sources
said, has since boasted that he was
promised a meatier position and
agreed to be part of the collateral
Sources, who did not want to be
named for fear of internal victim-
isation, said Hinds has been prom-
ised the Laventille East/Morvant
seat which he held up until 2007.
He was axed by Manning and
replaced with Donna Cox.
Rowley vs Beckles-Robinson vs...
As it stands in the PNM, there
is one group backing Beckles-
Robinson for leadership and another
backing Rowley. Some of the anti-
Rowley members also said they
would be willing to back a third
leadership contender as long as
Rowley did not remain at the helm.
Rowley supporters have
described Beckles-Robinson as a
"non-performer" and was weary
of her colluding with another party
in order to undermine the Rowley
Those supporting Beckles-
Robinson or any other suitable con-
tender willing to come forward,
cite Rowley s behaviour as chief
among their reasons to pit their
vote against him.
They said that while he has
attempted to soften his image, the
public relations stunt did not over-
haul his attitude.
But Rowley supporters, again
refusing to be named, have dis-
missed Beckles-Robinson s lead-
ership contest and said that a Beck-
les-Robinson win will equal a
coalition with the Independent Lib-
They repeated that it was
rumours of close talks between ILP
leader Jack Warner and Beckles-
Robinson that raised red flags at
Balisier House as the St Joseph by-
election campaigning wrapped up
Warner not ruling out a coalition
In a brief telephone interview
last week, Warner once again
praised Beckles-Robinson s political
acumen. He described her as "intel-
ligent, consistent and way above
the pack of the PNM."
He said while he had not dis-
cussed the possibility of a coalition
between a Beckles-Robinson-led
PNM and the ILP with his party
members, he did not rule it out.
"What I do know is that Penny
as leader, any number can play,"
It's political mischief
Rowley supporters said they were
not surprised by that possibility
and even named two other people,
who they deemed "government
agents" seeking to undermine the
growing strength of the PNM.
"You hear it on government radio
stations, men who have no standing
or say in the PNM supporting
Penny over Rowley. You have to
ask why? Who has the most to
gain?" one man asked.
He accused the dissenters of
"political mischief" and said that
both they and the government
agents were "trying very hard to
make the PNM look bad."
"They are trying to create an
image of disharmony in the PNM.
There is not a grand alliance in the
PNM, there is a grand alliance
against the PNM," one Rowley sup-
No comment from
Rowley, Beckles-Robinson, Hinds
The Sunday Guardian attempted
to reach Beckles-Robinson, Rowley
and Hinds from Tuesday to Friday
with no success.
Requests for interviews and
questions were texted to all three
without reply. SEE PAGE A22
Dissent in the PNM grows
Two political analysts weighed
in with different views of the pos-
sible rift in the People s National
Bishnu Ragoonath yesterday said
it was clear that Opposition Leader
Dr Keith Rowley has "sidelined"
senators Pennelope Beckles-Robin-
son and Fitzgerald Hinds in a bid
to silence them as the internal elec-
In a brief telephone interview,
Ragoonath said Rowley was "setting
his slate" for the 2015 general elec-
tion and believed that by removing
both Beckles-Robinson and Hinds
from Senate, he stood a better
"He won the last three out of
four elections, he would want to
say that he is the rightful leader,
and the challenge in the party would
be to prove that having Rowley as
the leader would result in success
at the general election," he said.
He said Beckles-Robinson s sup-
porters would have to prove that
Rowley s leadership would not lead
to another victory in 2015.
He said ILP leader Jack Warner s
statement that he would not rule
out a coalition with a Beckles-
Robinson-led PNM would end up
hurting Warner more than it would
"Warner s support comes from
UNC constituencies and if they
believe that he will join with the
PNM, he would lose them,"
'Jack has no importance in PNM'
But another analyst, Winford
James, had a different view.
James said Warner had no impor-
tance within the PNM and did not
see his statement of a possible coali-
tion being politically harmful to
He also questioned whether
Beckles-Robinson really had the
support of the alliance within the
"I don t know if Ms Beckles-
Robinson has quality support that
would launch her into universal
acceptance within the party," he
"I also don t know if there is any
shred of evidence that Beckles is a
likely, credible and well-supported
contender for leader."
He said the removal of Beckles-
Robinson and Hinds from Senate
begged several questions.
"Were they promised something
bigger? What did he tell these peo-
ple when he was shifting them out
of Senate? Is it that he has bigger
things for them?"
James said while Beckles-Robin-
son and Hinds maintained that his-
torical tight-lipped PNM approach,
it may be time to break that silence.
"The people want to know that
there is transparency in any party.
How they treat with themselves is
how they would treat with us, the
citizens, when they are in govern-
ment," James said. (RS)
James to Penny, Hinds:
Time to break the silence
Dr Keith Rowley
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