Political infatuation gone sour | Letters to Editor | trinidadexpress.com

Political infatuation gone sour | Letters to Editor | trinidadexpress.com

“Junior partners, the National Transformation Alliance (NTA) and the Independent Liberal Party (ILP), are being tolerated during the hustings. Thereafter, they will be at the mercy of the senior partner. This is when the infighting escalates and they will again be summarily excluded; forced to abandon ship or drown.”

The foregoing sentiments were espoused in my column published in this newspaper on August 9, 2023, five days prior to the local government election.

Prophetic as they were, I was simply choreographing predictability; the UNC/NTA leadership melodrama now amusingly being played out centre stage.

The said column cautioned that “Unscrupulous ganging-up has become the norm among grieving political parties vying to dethrone the PNM: an admission of appalling incurable weakness which forces ill-conceived marriages of convenience between bitter political foes, as a consequence of which none can be trusted.”

Will these struggling leaders ever learn that political marriages of convenience do not ever endure, notwithstanding wherever, whenever, however and between whomsoever consummated?

The ANR Robinson-led ACDC/DLP was still-born. The DLP, itself a Bhadase Maraj-led merger of the People’s Democratic Party, Trinidad Labour Party and Party of Political Progress Groups, disintegrated amidst a fierce battle for leadership.

The ULF, Tapia and ONR deserted the Robinson-led NAR, in absolute disgust. The UNC-led People’s Partnership unceremoniously discarded the MSJ, COP, TOP and NJAC, and Tobago’s hastily devised concoctions customarily surface and disappear overnight. All this while the PNM gallops in composure, winning, losing or drawing alone.

Astute political parties do not crave coalitions. Lose or draw, they shake the dust off their feet, recalibrate, regroup and battle on: live to fight another day, on their own strength, whatever the odds.

True leaders do not, on the one hand, proclaim greatness of the parties they command and, in the same setting, cap in hand, appeal to lesser mortals to prop them up, let alone plead let bygones be bygones; fall conveniently in and out of love over and over again: self-seeking, self-serving, self-anointed and self-indulgent.

Even in the best of circumstances, when negotiated nuptial arrangements seem reciprocally favourable, separation and divorce are always on the cards, whether voluntary, involuntary, mutually amenable, expedient or forced.

Precipitated by hidden agenda for the most part treacherous, disillusion and disenchantment oft-times surface, triggered invariably by overheating ambition and incontrollable impatience: insatiable lust for coalition supremacy.

Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing families and friends, sheep and shepherd, flesh and blood, nay soul and spirit. It eviscerates loyalty, integrity, sincerity and patriotism.

Obviously intensely guarded, hidden political agenda eventually comes to light purposefully or seep out unintentionally, creating uneasiness, discomfort and discord; inviting occasions for inconceivable innuendos, insinuations, missteps and misgivings.

As antagonism builds and anxiety soars to be “monarch of all I survey”, frustration becomes intolerable, sooner or later getting the better of the power-seeker who explodes infuriatingly.

Traditionally, coalitions stand their best chance of survival post-elections, when no party attracts a majority sufficient to form the government. This is what transpired in 1995 when the PNM and UNC each won 17 seats: two Tobago constituencies favouring the NAR.

The stalemate was resolved when Mr Robinson joined hands with UNC leader Basdeo Panday who, with the two additional seats, formed the UNC/NAR coalition government. The deal saw Mr Panday become prime minister and Mr Robinson, in turn, the new president.

Not surprisingly, following the 2000 general election, a blistering rift between the two resulted in President Robinson bewilderingly appointing PNM’s Patrick Manning as prime minister ahead of an enraged Basdeo Panday, both parties having again won an equal number of seats—18/18—accordingly prompting an increase in electoral constituencies in 2007 from 36 to 41.

Given these unpalatable antecedents, a more enlightened electorate ought not to fall prey to wolves bedecked in sheep’s clothing, repetitively dangling political opportunists outfitted with questionable credentials in reconstructed configurations of sheer naked political marriages of convenience.

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