Former executive member of the now opposition New National Party (NNP) Kenny Lalsingh has called on former Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell to behave like “a statesman” and step aside from leadership of the party following his loss at the polls almost a year ago.
In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY over the weekend, Lalsingh, a leading businessman in the country, said that the decision of the 76-year old aging leader to hold onto the job of Political Leader of NNP is “a negative” for the party in going forward.
“In my opinion, Dr. Mitchell should relook at what he’s doing and behave like a statesman. He has said that he is no longer running (in general election) and he has said that many times before. Having served the country the longest (as Prime Minister), I don’t think that anybody coming after Dr. Mitchell will be able to serve as long as him. That is a record that nobody can really break.
“I believe that he needs to leave as a Statesman and allow the party to choose a leader – say to the party build your Constituency branches, call a Convention and build back the party.”
Over the years, Lalsingh has had some rocky relations with Dr. Mitchell, starting back in the first NNP government of then late Prime Minister H.A Blaize in the 1984-90 period.
The businessman who was the elected Member of Parliament for the rural St Patrick West constituency was removed as the No.2 in Mitchell’s Ministry of Works and Public Utilities amidst a scandal over the sale of cement.
Lalsingh left NNP to help form the National Democratic Congress in 1987 with the late George Brizan, Dr. Francis Alexis and Tillman Thomas who resigned from the party over differences with Blaize and his economic policies that were being pursued.
He was back with Mitchell for the 2013 general election when the NNP won all 15 seats at the polls and was given the job of Minister for Implementation and Leader of Government Business in the Senate.
Several months later, Lalsingh was removed without any formal reasons being given by Dr. Mitchell.
Asked if he was still a member of NNP, Lalsingh said: “I am not a financial member but I never resigned, I just walked away.”
The St Patrick-based businessman believes that the defeat at the polls on June 23, 2022 was an appropriate time for the longstanding NNP boss to move off the scene.
He said: “Well, he should have done that a long time ago. He should have behaved like the British politicians – the British politicians once they lose an election they step down.”
“If we are part of the Parliamentary democracy and we’re following Great Britain, I think that is how we should behave in the Caribbean. We should not remain and want to fight to hold on. You have served, you have lost, say thank you much to the country, to the party and say to the party, I will help you build and move on.”
Lalsingh rejected the idea that the NNP will come to an end just like the now defunct Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) of Sir Eric Gairy in light of Dr. Mitchell’s behaviour to want to hold onto power as the party boss.
He noted that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) of current Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell suffered humiliating 15-0 defeats at the polls in 2013 and 2018 and is now back in power following its victory at the polls eleven months ago.
The former government minister was also asked to comment on the reason for showing up Sunday at the ceremony held by Member of Parliament for St. Andrew North-west Delma Thomas who resigned from NNP a few weeks earlier after 15 years of membership, and pledged to assist the Congress administration.
He said: “I came to lend support to Hon. Delma Thomas because I understand fully the pressure she is undergoing and I believe that she is a very capable lady, she is well-meaning. She has made a decision and I think she needs to get support.
“I have been in a similar situation as her years ago and I know it can tear you apart if you are not strong so I am just here to lend her support. Whatever decision she makes I believe she would make the right decision.”
According to Lalsingh, there is no permanent relationship between anyone even in the political arena.
“You have relationships, you break relationships and at the end of the day you use your position for the good of the country and for your own self,” he said.