The two contenders seeking to be the next leader of the Congress of the People yesterday shared their views on rebuilding the party and its relationship with other political entities.
It was evident that Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan and Sharon Gopaul-McNicol had divergent views during a meet and greet the media at COP Operations Centre, Charlieville.
The Congress of the People will hold elections for a political leader for the term 2017-2020 on November 19.
The two candidates had a difference of opinion on receiving an endorsement from their peers and forming a possible coalition with other parties.
Gopaul-McNicol said the membership would determine if they wanted a coalition and the advantages and disadvantages of going back to a coalition. The COP was one of the five parties which formed the People’s Partnership in the run-up to the 2010 general election.
“The coalition concept did not crystallise to one of equal respect,” she said in referring to the 2010 elections.
“It did not, the COP was somehow morphed under the United National Congress. The concept of a coalition was not one of equality and as soon as you start with this junior/senior partner nonsense,” she said.
She said a coalition has been proven to be effective but it was not effective in their party’s last efforts.
“The architects behind it did not know what it is supposed to be. There is no such thing as a junior partner and a senior partner. This is not a law firm,” she said.
Seepersad-Bachan said her first priority was to rebuild the COP, according to the foundation principles.
She said her focus would be on people who want good governance. And rejected the idea of political polarisation where competent people must be dispensed because of their political allegiance.
Asked about the party’s founder Winston Dookeran’s endorsement of candidates, Seepersad-Bachan said; “In July, Mr Dookeran contacted me and I spoke to him about running as political leader and he was complimentary and he was happy that I took the decision and he was happy that I decided to go forward.”
However, Gopaul-McNicol said she did not seek endorsement from those at the top.
“Again the ground-up model, I never, never called anybody from powerful standing to ask for an endorsement. I sought endorsement from those at the bottom. If anyone at the top endorsed me they are treated no different from those at the bottom. I believe that is a serious mistake,” she said.
Gopaul-McNicol said nearly every political party was formulated with a top-down system of governance.
She said she subscribed to the “ground-up model.”
“I have an entire training manual and book into the ground-up system which has gained traction up the islands and seen a tremendous gain in controlling crime,” she said.
Seepersad-Bachan said anything could be pulled out of a textbook but it all boils down to good governance and facing challenges.
“The challenges we face in our country today deals with good governance. We can speak to all different types of leadership and textbook concepts but the bottom line is our country is faced with a governance crisis. If we are to come out of the crisis we have to ensure sure all our citizens can participate. If we are to look at economic development and innovation, we need to bring our people together and unify,” she said.
Chairman of the COP Jamieson Bahadur said the COP was alive and kicking.
“You have my assurance on that. Certain things happened in the National Council meeting today where we had the chairman of the electoral committee talking about the number of religious schools supporting us for the polling stations,” he said.
He said the COP received support from the Muslims, Hindus, Presbyterian and Catholic schools and thanked them for being able to use them as a polling station next weekend.
POLLING STATIONS ARE:
• Tunapuna Hindu School
• Freeport Hindu School
• Don Miguel Hindu School
• KP Hindu School
• Happy Hill Hindu School
• Charlieville Presbyterian
• Guaico Presbyterian in Sangre Grande
• Arima Boys’ RC
• Diamond Vale Community Centre
• La Seiva RC School
• ASJA Boys’ College San Fernando
• Point Fortin ASJA Primary
• Siparia Road KPA School
• St James Preschool.