Defeated Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell is coming under increasing pressure to relinquish his post as Political Leader of the New National Party (NNP) which lost the June 23 general election to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) under the leadership of 44-year old attorney-at-law, Dickon Mitchell.
Informed sources told THE NEW TODAY that several high-level officials within NNP are blaming Dr. Mitchell for the 9-6 loss to Congress which ended their nine-year rule of the island.
One official who spoke on condition that he was not named said that large sections of the party are rebelling against the ousted Prime Minister continuing to hold onto the leadership of the party.
He pointed out that former revolutionary soldier, Kennedy Budhlall and retired trade union leader, Chester Humphrey are among those calling for a new leader to emerge and for the removal of Dr. Mitchell and to be replaced by former Agriculture Minister Peter David as the new leader of NNP.
Budhlall was one of the operatives who did political work on the ground especially in rural Grenada to help Dr. Mitchell take control of the NNP some 33 years ago from then Prime Minister and Political leader of the party, Herbert Blaize who was restricted to a wheelchair due to an injury.
According to the source, the former revolutionary soldier has vowed to lead the charge against the aging 75-year old Dr. Mitchell to relinquish the top post in the party and to go into retirement as soon as possible.
The source quoted Budhlall as saying that the electoral loss suffered by the NNP will be painful to several high-ranking members of the party including some of the previous government ministers.
He identified one ex-female government minister in the St Andrew area who took out a mortgage with a financial institution to build a house and will now be having great difficulties in servicing the loan due to the small monthly sum given to her as an opposition Member of Parliament.
He said that Budhlall is also fearful that several of the critical NNP supporters stand to lose lucrative contracts given to them under the former Keith Mitchell-led administration.
According to the source, the anti-Mitchell forces within NNP are accusing the defeated Prime Minister of trivialising the threat posed by new Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell and the newlook NDC team during the election campaign.
He said that Dr. Mitchell badly misread the situation and kept telling aides that NDC was not able to attract finance for its campaign and that Dickon Mitchell was showing signs of peaking too early in the battle and was getting weary because of the length of the campaign period.
In addition, the top NNP official chided the outgoing Prime Minister for relying on the data provided from a poll that was conducted in March by Barbadian pollster, Peter Wickham.
He said the poll was irrelevant because NDC was clearly gaining momentum each and every day of the campaign while Prime Minister Mitchell was often refusing to accept contrary information that was being given to him by NNP foot soldiers on the ground.
He cited the case of the defeated Minister of Finance, Gregory Bowen who was losing ground in his St. George South-east seat to the relatively newcomer of Congress, Phillip Telesford but Dr Mitchell was constantly denying that the NNP Number Two figure was in trouble in the constituency.
The official also indicated that the party’s General Secretary Roland Bhola failed in his efforts to convince Dr. Mitchell that things were looking grim for the then ruling party in several constituencies as NDC was making significant inroads.
The NNP insider stated that Dr. Mitchell called the election at a time when the party’s machinery was not in place to fight Congress.
He said that several constituencies like St John of Fisheries Minister Alvin Da Breo, Bowen’s St George South-east, South St George of Infrastructure Minister, Norland Cox, St George North-east of Nimrod Ollivierre were not able to complete their canvassing of the voter’s list in time for the June 23 poll.
He added that only a handful of constituencies were known to be fully prepared for the battle against NDC – Prime Minister Mitchell (St. George North-west), Tourism Minister Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen (St Mark), Education Minister Emmalin Pierre (St. Andrew South-east) and Peter David (Town of St George).
The official suggested that several constituencies were left on their own to battle against the rampaging Dickon Mitchell-led NDC and were not able to offer much resistance on Polling Day.
According to the source, the aging Dr. Mitchell was at a loss to understand the power of the Social Media platforms that were effectively used against him by the NDC Team under the guidance of Orlando Romain and was not matched by the NNP outfit of Hamlet Mark, Nazim Benjamin and Sheldon Scott and others.
In an address on Monday after taking the oath of office to become the Leader of the Opposition, the defeated NNP leader called for unity in the ranks of the party and warned against those pushing for an early change in leadership.
The ex-Prime Minister said he had no intention of remaining as NNP Political Leader beyond the date of the next convention which is due in the first quarter of 2023.
However, the anti-Mitchell forces within NNP are insisting on the need to call a Special Convention and General Council to bring about the required changes in the party’s leadership.
One ex-government minister commented: “Just as NDC had to cleanse itself of Nazim Burke to move forward, NNP has to do the same with Keith Mitchell.”