The paper attributed the information to Barbara Ryan, the PNM Arima constituency representative. It reported that Ryan said on Wednesday that Beckles-Robinson confirmed at a party meeting that she will run against Rowley.
That meeting was held at the PNM constituency office, Guanapo Street, Arima. However the paper was unable to confirm the report with Beckles-Robinson. It said it was unable to reach her by telephone.
Beckles-Robsinson is a former Arima MP but was not nominated by the party to run in the constituency in the 2010 general election. After the election the party's new leader appointed her as Senate leader. Rowley recently removed her from the upper house along with long time loyalist Fitzgerald Hinds to make way for two newcomers, Avinash Singh and Diane Baldeosingh-Chadee.
There was talk that Rowley did it out of spite since the word on the street was that she would be challenging him for the leadership. However the party denied that and said it just wanted to create opportunities for other younger party members to get parliamentary experience.
Beckles-Robinson still has support in the PNM's Arima constituency. Newsday quoted Ryan as saying the former MP and current Lady Vice chair of the party would get the support of the majority of the party groups. Reports suggest she would also get the backing of the youth and women's arms of the PNM.
Very reliable sources have told JYOTI that Beckles-Robinson has the backing of very influential people within the PNM hierarchy. She could also get support from outside of the party since there is adequate time for members of other parties to resign and join the PNM.
|Penny stops in Chaguanas to shake hands with Jack Warner during the July 2013 by-election|
When Rowley became leader of the party in 2010 he immediately got the party to drop the delegate style and adopt the one-member, one-vote system used by the UNC and COP. With the membership drive open until February 28, the team supporting Beckles-Robinson would have adequate time to register new members who would be able to vote.
If Robinson wins the election, she would have to assert her leadership from outside the House of Representatives but she would have Rowley replaced as Leader of the Opposition. The constitution requires that the President appoint as opposition leader the MP who commands the support of the majority of opposition members.
All the MPs on the PNM side of the wife were picked by Manning for the last election and may not be entirely loyal to Rowley. At least two of them have openly deified the leader and attend Parliament wearing the Balisier tie and both of them were absent from the 2010 local election campaign.
Beckles-Robinson could also ask one MP to resign and force a bye-election that she could win and then enter Parliament as PNM leader and leader of the opposition for the final year.
The constitution allows that if the seat is declared vacant before June 18, 2014, which is the fourth anniversary of the first sitting of the parliament.
Section 69:3 of the constitution states: "Where a vacancy occurs in the House of Representatives within the first four years of the life of the Parliament a bye-election shall be held to fill such vacancy not later than ninety days from the date of the announcement by the Speaker of the vacancy."
Commentary: Penny can be Opposition Leader in present parliament