|File: Penny Beckles shakes hands with Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner|
The party is holding its election on May 18 and for the first time it would conduct the exercise based on a one-member, one-vote system. So far Rowley is the only candidate but the party rules allow other members to put their name on the ballot.
There has only been one challenge to the PNM's leader in its history - that is when Rowley ran against the sitting leader, Patrick Manning, and was defeated in an election using the delegate system.
Some key party members have been pushing for Beckles-Robinson and JYOTI's sources have said certain top influential PNMites have already raised enough funds for her to make the challenge so it is only a matter of time before she takes the plunge.
On Sunday she spoke at a meeting hosted by the PNM Women’s League in Couva at which the group honoured PNM women who have served with distinction at the local government level.
She said now is time for change in the PMN and suggested it could come by embracing its women at leadership levels who could effectively build the party as the next and best alternative Government.
The event was significant because it is the first time Beckles-Robinson went that far. Her audience included awardees:
- Nafeesa Mohammed, former chairman of the Barataria/San Juan regional corporation
- Patrica Mejias, former chairman of the Tunapuna/Piarco regional corporation
- Brigid Annisette George, a former Attorney General
- Deputy political leader Joan Yuille-Williams for her devotion to party.
She suggested that it still is a man's world in the PNM, noting that while 70 per cent of women won their positions in the local election in 2013, the party appointed only 14 females as aldermen. She added that there is no female serving at the leadership level at the corporations today.
Beckles-Robinson acknowledged that all the party's leaders, including Rowley, have helped build the PNM but also made the point that a lot of change is taking place and the PNM must be real to deal with that. "Changes are coming faster and faster and that poses real challenge to the PNM in 2014,” she said.
“The PNM continues to be a very strong and vibrant party as we approach 2015 and general election we must continue to prepare ourselves to let the public know that the PNM is the next alternative Government and the best Government that has ever led Trinidad and Tobago,” she said.
Manning shunned Beckles-Robinson and refused to let run for any seat in the last general election. When Rowley took over the leadership he appointed Beckles-Robinson to lead the senate but has now removed her.
Some party members saw that as a way to diminish the lady's importance and earned her support within the membership.