Friday, October 25, 2013

Dookeran says COP still viable within partnership, disagrees that tribal politics is back

File: Winston Dookeran and Kamla Persad-Bissessar as leaders of the PP in 2010
Winston Dookeran believes there is a need for candid discussions in the Congress of the People (COP) with an emphasis on embracing change in order to rebuild.

Dookeran is the founding leader of the COP, which became a very strong political force in the 2007 general election although it didn't win any seats in Parliament as a result of the defects in the first past the post electoral system.

In 2010 Dookeran was one of the architects of the People's Partnership in which COP and other members kept their identity. Many COP members didn't like the idea of the coalition and over the past three years have been quite vocal about it. But Dookeran has always maintained that coalition politics "is here to stay" and his successor, Prakash Ramadhar, shares that view.

The result of Monday's election rekindled the fires of discontent and a group within the COP is demanding Ramadhar's resignation and severing all ties with the PP. Ramadhar has rejected both and insists that COP will remain in the partnership because that is what its members voted for in 2010.

Ramadhar's brother, Kishore, is one of the COP officials demanding the leader's departure and the exit of COP from the partnership.

Dookeran spoke with local media about the matter. This is what the Express quoted him as saying on Thursday:

“I think the moment is one for some candid conversations on the successes and the shortfalls of the political movement that we started in 2010. In electoral sense the movement was started before that and the COP’s presence was very instrumental in making it a reality."

He also commented on COP's loss at the polls on Monday. "The COP did not fare well at the electoral level and I would expect in any political organisation that there would be ripples as a result, but the pathway that we have set will not be disturbed and decisions will have to be informed by that pathway.

"So in the years ahead a candid discussion is essential, perhaps change in focus and change in the direction is necessary but a national movement that is an alternative to the movement that controlling the country for many years will find difficulties but must never in any way renege on its commitment and its mandate," he told the Express.

The paper also asked Dookeran if the COP should become a part of the United National Congress (UNC). He said, "The political parties form a movement and there are components for that movement and there is place for that movement to continue in what way and in what are the terms of engagement of that movement need to be reviewed."

Dookeran added, "I have no doubt that the COP as a force of fixing the politics will remain a strong force. The fact that so many people did not vote and were disenchanted in this election is a reflection that they have not seen the light and therefore the force will remain, whether the vehicle to promote that force will have to be adjusted, I rather suspect that it will...

"I think people are still loyal to what the COP enunciated in 2007, they know the road we have to travel is not an easy one and therefore they recognise that there are some errors in political strategy that has taken place but they are still hopeful that whatever emerges beyond the concept and the notion of the COP will be part of that political calculus.”

Dookeran disagreed with the view that Monday's results indicate that the country has returned to tribal politics, calling that conclusion "superficial". He said, "I think the issue of tribal politics has given a level of acceptability by political commentators that does not exist.

"I think this country has passed beyond that a long time ago and I think people are willing to respond to the issues and there is no doubt that issues will affect one group differently to another group, but I don’t think it’s an issue of tribal politics at all," he said.

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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