Thursday, October 17, 2013

Kamla praises Panday as UNC turns 25

File: PM Kamla Persad-Bissesssar with former PM Basdeo Panday at a reception at the Diplomatic Centre
Kamla Persad-Bissessar paid tribute on Wednesday night to the founding leader of the United National Congress (UNC), a man she has decribed in the past as her "guru and mentor".

She was speaking at a political meeting in San Juan in support of candidates for the October 21 Local Government Election.

When she announced on Dec. 12, 2009 that she would challenge Panday for the leadership of the UNC she acknowledged Panday's contribuition and dedication to the people and the country.

“We have had a leader with vision and foresight in Mr Basdeo Panday. This is a man who led from his heart, with equality as his guiding light. This is the leader who recognized the value of women as we fought, and continue to fight, for the equal place we deserve in our nation, and in our world,” she said in 2009.

October 16 marked the 25th anniversary of the Aranguez Mandate, which led to the official formation of the UNC with Panday as the party's first leader. 

In noting the historic anniversary, Persad-Bissessar praised Panday for his deacdes of struggle for justice and equality for the people of Trinidad and Tobago and also mentioned two of the founders of the party, its first chairman, Dr Rampersad Parasram, and a UNC stalwart, John Humphrey.

Roodal Moonilal, who was a teenager then, also noted the event, stating that he stood in the rain to mark the birth of the movement.

When Panday launched the UNC he called it a "crusade" and said people would join it not because of the colour of their skins but the content of their minds - an idea preached by the late Martin Luther King junior.

Under Panday, the UNC strived for that goal of justice, equality and freedom for all the people and the government he led between 1995 and 2001 reflected the country's diversity. 

Panday was the man who called the nation's attention to the injustices that workers suffered under the Williams PNM administration. He walked should-to-shoulder with George Weekes, Raffique Shah, Joe Young, other labour leaders and politicians on Bloody Tuesday – March 18, 1976 - to demand justice for the working class.

In his final election campaign in 2007 his parting words to supporters epitomised his deacdes of struggle: "Stand all!" he declared, "Bow to no one."

File: Basdeo Panday during the 2007 election campaign
The UNC was born out of CLUB 88 - the Caucus of Love, Unity and Brotherhood that Panday and a few loyalits formed after the break with A.N.R. Robinson over idealological and other differences.

Dr Parasram, who chaired that movement and later became the first chairman of the UNC, told JYOTI the party still represents a significant section of the community which has always rallied behind this party and what it stands for.

"It has given us a two Prime Ministers including the first female Prime Minister," he said. "It set a new benchmark when it started the system of one man one vote which is now being copied by other organizations. It has faced and managed crises. But it has held together," he added.

"Leaders will change. The Party will win or lose. There will be divisions and fights. But the support base which has remained firm in spite of the fact that they may feel and express a sense of alienation in their own party built by them and their fathers and mothers before them," he declared. 

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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