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Commentary: The emperor's new senators...
Published on December 11, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Phillip Edward Alexander

The political leader of the People's National Movement (PNM) and leader of the opposition Dr Keith Rowley's big play in the Senate seems to be falling flat all around him, causing many within the PNM and in the population at large to question his understanding of the tenuous nature of popular electoral office. One would have expected that he, more than anyone else in public life would have learnt the important lesson of the meteoric descent of his own former dethroned leader, but it seems that Dr Rowley is impervious to logic.

Phillip Edward Alexander is a social and political activist, a feature writer and columnist, the founder of the Jericho Project and the chairman of the Citizen's Union of Trinidad and Tobago
Who can explain the overnight stardom of Dianne Baldeo Chadeesingh who, by her own admission, only joined the party a year ago? What is so spectacular about her qualifications or experience that it could justify the bypassing of long serving and long suffering members of the party, members who have been toiling away to save it from the death by disgrace it almost certainly suffered after the double electoral defeats in 2010? Besides her ethnicity and her gender (two issues that have been dogging Rowley's version of the PNM from the moment Patrick Manning took his hasty exit), she brings no unique talents or expertise that could justify her appointment, and it is eclipsed for sheer audacity only by the appointment of the PNM's newest member, sweet potato farmer, former member of the Section 34 group and defeated candidate for the Chaguanas West by-election, Avinash Singh.

This particular appointment is beyond perplexing, as it flies in the face of the PNM's 57-year-old tradition of not appointing losers over other aspirants, simply because of the message it sends, and, as his predecessors have been extremely vocal against other parties bringing candidates defeated at the polls into the Parliament through 'the back door' as it is oftentimes referred to, how does he reconcile this contradiction?

Coupled with the disrespect shown to party stalwart and widely loved and supported future political leader Pennelope Beckles, these two shocking appointments may well be Dr Rowley's Waterloo and, as is his demonstrated penchant to shoot himself in the foot, once again, emboldened by what he perceived as a winning streak, may have gone searching to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Some in the party claim that the Andrew Gabriel-led cabal's redesign of the political leader is partly responsible the new 'look' of the Senate, with many within the party already willing to reject this Keith Rowley 2.0

With the wagons circling and the disenchanted chorus getting louder comes word that the constituents of Arima have met and have sent a message that 'they not taking that!' The promises made to Fitzgerald Hinds that he may have the Laventille West seat to contest may not materialize if these constituents also have their say, and as they appear happy with NiLeung Hypolite, will they allow the party controllers to predetermine who they end up with as representative.

And what of the other rumours? The rumour that Darryl Smith, newly appointed chairman of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation, is being groomed to replace the soon to be ejected Amery Browne? Will Dr Browne take that lying down? An aspiring political leader himself, what could he be promised to encourage him to to stay quiet and toe the party line? Or that Camile Robinson Regis will be making Alicia Hospedales redundant?

The dark side of sycophancy or exaggerated loyalty is that it prevents leaders from getting a fair idea of reality and may either lull them into thinking that their policies are loved and supported by the masses or even fool them outright into believing their own rhetoric. Many a promising legacy has been derailed in the past by such mania, and Keith Rowley will not be the first to rue his own decisions.

There is an old saying, there's many a slip between the cup and the lip, and Dr Rowley may yet find himself much to his own dismay politically hung from the very petard he and his team are erecting for others come the party's internal election constitutionally due in early 2014.

Stay tuned.
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