A Look at the Couva South Constituency FRESH BLOOD
By PETER GREEN
The Couva South Constituency has always been described as one of the prized jewels in the Opposition camp.
It is a constituency built by the former leader of the United Labour Front (ULF) and the United National Congress (UNC), Basdeo Panday.
Panday, who was the Member of Parliament for Couva North, took control of the adjacent Couva South constituency in 1976 by handpicking Kelvin Ramnath to be its MP under the ULF banner. Under the NAR banner in 1986, Ramnath remained as the MP. In 1988, there was a split within the NAR, and Panday took his faction of MPs from the NAR and formed the UNC.
Ramnath held on to the Couva South seat until 1991 when he was replaced. Some of these friends say he was forced out by Panday after a falling out. In 1991, well-known attorney, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, won the Couva South seat for the UNC and again in 1995 when then Prime Minister Patrick Manning called a snap election and lost.
In 2000, Panday and Maharaj felt out and, in an election, held in 2001, Ramnath was back as the MP for Couva South. He remained as an Opposition MP until 2010 when Kamla Persad-Bissessar replaced him with Rudy Indarsingh.
In 2010 Persad-Bissessar led the People’s Partnership coalition to a convincing 29-12 victory over the PNM. Indarsingh, who resigned as the President-General of the All Trinidad Workers Trade Union, was made a Minister in the Ministry of Finance.
Labour had several voices in the PP Government. In 2015, Indarsingh again won the Couva South seat but went into Opposition where he is today. He got 13,889 votes to the PNM’s Alif Rodney Mohammed who got 6,070 votes. Within months of the 2015 elections, Indarsingh did not support Persad-Bissessar for the leadership of the UNC. And, following that internal election, Indarsingh ended up backing the loser.
Since then, he has been in the proverbial dog house in the UNC and already the hierarchy of the party is singing the tune that Rudy is gone!
With General Elections constitutionally due by the end of this year, the UNC has already opened nominations for various seats. Two young persons have already lined up for the seat. Sunshine Today sources say they are both favourites of the political leader.
There is a dark horsein the race
However, there is a dark horse in the race whom no one has considered. He has been meeting regularly with the top brass and he wants a sure seat in 2020. He is a newcomer to politics but he has been making public statements in recent times.
At one time, Indarsingh was the understudy to Panday in the sugar union. Caroni (1975) Limited had power and Panday and the union ensured that the sugar workers got their just due. But when the PNM Government closed down Caroni in 2003, it broke the backbone of the union.
Indarsingh replaced Panday at the helm of the union, but then politics got into his vein and he pitched for the Couva South seat. What has Indarsingh achieved over the past ten years?
He serves a constituency to Dow Village to the south and Mc Bean to the north. The closure of Caroni Ltd has thrown thousands of his constituents onto the breadline. Promises of land for former Caroni workers have been a political football for years. All the funds of the ex-workers have dried up and even if they get the land today, they cannot afford to build on the plots.
Crime is rampant
Crime is rampant in this constituency with several murders in 2020.
*It started on January 1 when Renaldo Chinapoo was shot dead at Bahadoor Street, Couva.
*It was followed on January 26, when Roger Singh, 32, shot his wife Naiee Singh, 31, in the parking lot of Venture Credit Union, Couva, before taking his own life.
*Then, on April 23, Vishanie Chitbahal, 23, and her brother Vishal, 25, were shot dead by gunmen at their home at Windsor Park, Couva. No motive was established and no one was arrested.
*On April 29, David Ramkissoon, 40, was shot dead at Greg Street, Balmain, Couva.
*In April, four men and a woman carried out a home invasion at Central Park, Couva, but they were caught at a beach house in Mayaro.
*Less than a year ago, three men and a woman were held with four guns and 78 rounds of ammunition at Central Park.
This is just a sampling of the murders/crime in this constituency.
Indarsingh called for increased patrols after these murders, along with several home invasions. While patrols increased in Couva South, they are never enough for criminals who monitor the movements of the police.
With the closure of Caroni and the problems associated with Covid-19, constituents are finding it difficult to survive. Several companies at Point Lisas have closed, some permanently. The last closure was Proman last week and no one knows if it is temporary or not.
Indarsingh was in the news two weeks ago pleading for water from WASA. He even threatened to protest, even though the Public Health Ordinance regulations for COVID-19 are in place.
Roads in the constituency have not had a repaving for some time and constituents feel the time has come for “fresh blood”.
Flooding is a problem in the rainy season and no proper infrastructure is in place to deal with this problem.
Time is closing in on Indarsingh. Would get another five years? In a matter of months, we will get that answer!