|Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj and Keith Rowley together on a political platform|
PRIME MINISTER Patrick Manning has described former UNC Attorney General Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj as his “one friend in the politics” who furnished him with a photograph of an upscale London apartment belonging to a high-ranking UNC Government Minister.
Manning claimed the photo was shown to him during debate on corruption in the then UNC Administration in 2001. But in an immediate response, Maharaj denied Manning’s claim and accused Manning of looking for friends while he tried to divert national attention from the major issues gripping the country including the escalating crime situation.
Manning addressing a large crowd of supporters at a San Fernando East constituency meeting on Coffee Street on Tuesday night told supporters that Maharaj rendered invaluable assistance to the PNM during the PNM’s stint on the Opposition benches from 1995-2001.
“There are those who feel that my best friend in the politics is the honourable Basdeo Panday because of the things he does. He has to be doing things to benefit me and the PNM but I want to tell you here tonight and you will agree that I have one friend in politics, and that there is no one better than him and that is Mr Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj,” he said.
“Because when I stood up in Parliament and I was able to show you a picture of an apartment in Kensington in London, perhaps you did not know that I was given that photograph by Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj - my good friend,” he added.
Manning, who dropped the bombshell photo in the Lower House during the September 19th, 2001 parliamentary sitting, said it was a “pleasure” working with Maharaj during the anti-corruption debates in Parliament and recalled that it was the alleged corrupt practices of certain members of the then UNC government that had influenced then President ANR Robinson to make his now famous speech on moral and spiritual values in the local political scene.
However, contacted during a walkabout in the Tabaquite constituency yesterday, Maharaj dismissed Manning’s statements as “talking lies” and promised to deal with him at last night’s (Wednesday’s) political meeting at Fyzabad.
“Mr Manning said a few months ago that I was politically dead but I have been the one fighting him on corruption over the past five years and now he comes to the public and talking lies but I will deal with him on the platform tonight,” he said.
“He won’t deal with the issue of crime and now he wants to divert national attention away from the incompetence of his government,” he said.
UNC Alliance co-leader, Basdeo Panday, whose daughters were living at the Kensington apartments, referred all comments concerning Manning’s statements to Maharaj saying, “How could I comment on something I had nothing to do with?”