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Raffique Shah


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Nastiest campaign ever

By Raffique Shah
October 20, 2013

This local government elections campaign was the nastiest ever in the history of this country.

And three man-rats, abetted by their respective executives, can take credit for having reduced electioneering to a level so low, anything worse will be burrowing the sewer mains. Dip your heads Jack Warner, Anand Ramlogan and Roodal Moonilal.

Having witnessed the demise of Uriah Butler and Albert Gomes, and seen the rise of the PNM in 1956, the bitter battles against the voting machines, acrimony over electoral boundaries, and a cofounder of the ULF in 1976, I thought I'd seen it all. In my time, a meeting was not a meeting unless there was a drunken heckler. "Picong" was a fine art that real politicians had to master or suffer. Debate was robust and savaging one's opponents and shaking hands afterward was the norm.

But nothing prepared me for what transpired over the past few months. The sheer nastiness that spewed from platforms, the annoying horns that drowned the few speeches that contained any substance, the soca-fest-like campaigning... politics hit a new low.

It is mind-numbing to think that this small country has spawned so many sewer rats clustered in two political parties-the ILP and the UNC. Many might argue the rodents-in-human-form crawled out from the same stink-hole, hence their cussed compatibility. Whatever their genesis, what sin have we as a society committed to be saddled with such creatures and their mindless supporters?

When the slide began, maybe as far back as in January during the THA elections, I viewed the nightly radio and television fares as comic entertainment. By the time we got to the Chaguanas West by-election, the mudslinging had wor­sened. Jack Warner was "bussing mark" every night on his UNC friends of yesterday, complete with graphics and theatrics, as if they weren't co-harlots in the seedy House of the Rising Sun, sinners all, until the fallout.

We laughed at the jokes, the jabs, the exposés—I certainly did. Then the UNC slime hit back, dipping into their cavities for stink bombs, hurling them every which way, and things got nastier. But who would have thought they'd sink to be depths plumbed during this campaign?

If it was not whose mother or sister or brother slept with whom, it was whose "nennen" got a "ten days", whose "sarobhai" landed a plum job or contract, whose concubine was housed where, and worse. Threats of lawsuits that never materialised only fuelled the nastiness, much to the delight of their colleagues on the platforms and their colour-clad, flag-waving supporters on the ground.

It was only a matter of time before it reached dangerous levels. That happened when Attorney General Anand Ramlogan bared the confidential contents of an official police investigative file on a public platform. That singular act of desperation altered the equation. It was now open season.

Party sycophants did not query why, if he had evidence that Anna Deonarine was alle­gedly involved in wrongdoing related to a Range Rover (as he implied), he or the police or the DPP did not charge her with the serious offence. Bear in mind the alleged offence came under police investigation in 2011 when all of them, ILP and UNC, were one happy family.

The land transaction became a matter of interest in 2005 when Shama Deonarine, Anna's mother, was a prominent UNC councillor. No one in the UNC queried the $13 million sale then. Why did Ramlogan not pursue what he now deems a "suspicious transaction" when he became AG in 2010? Or when the CLICO probe was underway?

Many of the nightly allegations that Jack titillates his audience with ("but not tonight") relate to alleged thefts or misdemeanours that occurred while he was head honcho in the UNC. What, he knew nothing of these when he was praising Kamla as the incarnation of Maha Lakshmi? He queries Ramlogan's suitability for the position of AG. But will he tell us what role he played in bringing Anand in from the political cold back in 2010?

When friends fall out, the acrimony is worse than when thieves squabble; and all too often, the lines here are blurred.

As the stench from the stateroom and the deck gets nauseating, the circus continues into the by-election, complete with jugglers and clowns. Take the selection of Ian Alleyne as the UNC candidate for the St Joseph by-election, replacing one weirdo with another. What could have prompted this choice? Is the Prime Minister losing her mind?

You would think these jokers would have learnt some harsh lessons from the THA campaign during which they demonised Orville London, Keith Rowley and the PNM, and lost disastrously.

No, they have compounded their errors, targeting women on Warner's platform who people might otherwise have dismissed based solely on their association with Jack. Their attacks have disgusted many. The negative results of their nastiness will show tomorrow night. Watch them.

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