Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Jack refuses to attend Divali Nagar opening, says Rowley's presence reduced religious event to political jostling

Jack Warner declined an invitation to attend Sunday's formal opening of the National Council of Indian Culture's Divali Nagar because the organisers invited Keith Rowley.
Keith Rowley and his wife, Sharon, dressed in traditional Indian wear for the opening of Divali Nagar. PNM Photo
It was a rare occasion with the Opposition Leader and an entourage of PNM MPs showing up for the event. Among the PNMites were Rowley and his wife, Sharon; Senators Faris Al-Rawi, Pennelope Beckles, PNM chairman Franklin Khan and Point Fortin MP Paula Gopee-Scoon.

Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine, Local Government Minister Suruj Rambachan, Minister in the Ministry of Works, Stacy Roopnarine, and Minister in the Ministry of Environment, Couva North MP Ramona Ramdial, Finance Minister Larry Howai and Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Lincoln Douglas also attended.

Warner wrote NCIC's public relations officer, Surujdeo Mangaroo, to explain why he declined the invitation

"When I was informed of Dr Keith Rowley's presence, at a time when the national community is so politically charged, the only logical process that followed suggested that such action would only serve to reduce this holy festival to political jostling, which, given the respect and love I have for the Hindu community, I chose not to be a part of now or ever," stated Warner in his letter.

"It is in this regard that I chose not to attend because for me, to reduce the opening of the Divali Nagar below its lofty and holy expectations is sacrilegious," he added.

Warner represents Chaguanas West, which is a predominantly Hindu community and has attended Divali celebrations with the people long before he was their MP. He also takes part in their other religious events as a "faithful servant" to the Hindu community.

He told the NCIC, "the service which I offered was predicated on the purity for which Hinduism stands, the honesty which it promotes and its moral values for which we all have become familiar".

He added, "It has never dawned upon me to align my presence to further any political gain, either personal or for my party, or to reduce the meaning of such an important event through any form of politicisation."

NCIC president Deokinanan Sharma told the Express newspaper Rowley not not get a special invitation. "Every single year, we have invited all members of Parliament to the Nagar. Unfortunately, members of the PNM in recent years have not come. In previous years Mr Manning came, Mrs Joan Yuille-Williams came as minister of culture and also Marlene McDonald," said Sharma.

"We just continued as we do every year and invited all parliamentarians. They decided to come this year. They are welcome, all are welcome as any other guest, as all patrons,'' said Sharma.

Rowley's decision to attend might be related to his image makeover and an attempt to appeal to the Hindu community. The PNM chairman denied that Rowley's attendance at the event was political. "It was a religious occasions which the PNM took part in as an official party which represents the national interest. There was no politics at play," Khan told the Express.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai