I’m probably just a slave to tribalism and the cult of The Leader, but there’s a part of me that still believes that Bas must have had a plan, that there must be some reason (nefarious or otherwise) for his actions over the last couple years. Why create a rump of a party? Why drive all the talent out?
The obvious explanation is that he is willing to do whatever it takes to cling to a modicum of control – that it’s better to be ruler of your own little domain than to share power. If you read Raffique Shah, you’d conclude that’s the way Bas has always been – in the ULF, in the NAR – he will always sacrifice the greater good for personal power. But, for whatever reason, I have never been satisfied with that explanation. It seems incomplete. There’s got to be something more, right? It’s thought processes like that (flawed as they may be) that lead me to ask “why?” Why did Bas do what he did over the last couple years? More importantly, why did he refuse to name a leader? Sure, there’s a stain on his name. But would being coy actually convince anyone to vote for the UNC who wouldn’t do so otherwise? It struck me today that there might be an answer to both the question of “what is he doing?” (with respect to the whole power struggle with Dookeran in the UNC) and “what is he doing?” with respect to his failure to name a leader. Mikela Panday.
It’s entirely possible that Panday will simply hold onto the position of Leader of the Opposition, with the hope that he will still be able to fight the next election at the age of 80. It would make more sense, of course, to allow the party to select a new leader, someone who could build a national reputation in preparation for 2012/13. But who would that be? The obvious choices have come and gone – Ramesh Maharaj, Winston Dookeran. If he’d had Kamla Persad-Bissessar in mind he would not have turned her down in the run up to the election. And I don’t see Jack Warner as being acceptable to the party. Looking at incoming class of UNC MPs I see only a handful of possibilities: Tim Gopeesingh, Roodal Moonilal and Mikela Panday. Of the others, Ramesh and Ramnath both returned to the in disgrace. I don’t see Partap, Sharma, Baksh, Hamza or Subhas as having what it takes to lead the party. Gypsy has the same problem Warner does. Bharath is too much of an unknown for me to say much, except that I see someone with so little of a national profile being selected to be leader.
So my money’d be on Mikela, if not now, then within a year.