Indian-origin Kamla creates history in Trinidad and Tobagoby opinion express June 1, 2010 0 comments
As the euphoria unfolds in Mauritius with the remarkable election victory for Indian-origin leader Dr Navin Ramgoolam, another Indian-origin leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar was elected as the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago in the recently concluded election in Trinidad and Tabago. She is the first woman PM who had a glorious victory defeating the 43 years of ruling government.
Leading the political coalition People’s Partnership, Kamla Persad got the majority winning 29 of the 41 parliamentary seats in the election on Monday. The 58-year-old Hindu woman, who is a granny of two, is grateful for the womens’ immense support across the country for choosing her as the PM.
With an excellent educational and professional background in West Indies, Ms. Persad- Bissessar was the first woman attorney general. She had also served as minister of legal affairs as well as minister of education earlier.
An Indian-origin PM hails from 1, 48,000 Indian laborers, who were shifted there to work on sugar and cocoa plantations during 1845- 1917.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar was to become the first female prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago as her five-party coalition headed for a strong victory in snap elections in the former British colony. Skip related content.
A subdued Prime Minister Patrick Manning con- ceded defeat some five hours after the close of polls. “What I do know is that we’ve lost the elections,” Manning said on live television. “The people have spoken.” Meanwhile, jubilant crowds gathered at the headquarters of Persad-Bissessar’s United National Congress (UNC), the main opposition party, which heads the People’s Partnership coalition.
Persad-Bissessar’s campaign tapped into voters’ worries about rising gang violence and corruption scandals here. The 58-year-old has promised to increase pensions and create a multi-million-dollar fund for sick children in a campaign focused on change. “I take full responsibility for the defeat,” Manning said, after calling the risky vote in the middle of his five-year term in the energy-rich Caribbean nation. The 63-year-old veteran politician from the People’s National Movement (PNM) had grown increasingly unpopular over accusations of neglecting healthcare, after pouring millions of dollars into giant building projects and hosting two major summits last year. The winner needs a simple majority of seats in parliament,where until now the PNM held 26 seats, with the rest going to the UNC. The tables started to turn as key marginal seats began to go to the yellow coalition of Persad-Bissessar before the final count had ended. Just over one million people were eligible to vote, while first estimates put turnout at around 60 percent. Foreign observers expected little change in energy policy in the oil and gas-rich nation, regardless of the outcome. Politics here have long been divided along lines of Indian or African descent.
Manning’s PNM draws most of its support from Afro-Trinidadians while the UNC of Persad-Bissessar largely relies on Indo-Trinidadian backing.Her coalition campaigned strongly for multi ethnic support. It also includes the multiracial Congress of the People, and the smaller National Joint Action Committee, the Tobago Organization of the People and the Movement for Social Justice. After loud campaign rallies with partying in the spirit of the nation’s famous carnival, the election took place calmly, with no music near polling stations and an alcohol sales ban in place. Foreign diplomats overseeing the vote reported no major incidents, while the Electoral and Boundaries Commission called for a probe into ballots reportedly not initialed by officials in five seats, including two key marginals. It was unclear why Manning decided to dissolve parliament in April, shortly before a vote of no confidence he was expected to win but also amid corruption allegations, which have damaged both main parties in recent years.
-BY Divyansh Bajpai