A leading regional political figure has called on new Grenada Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell to take steps to make sure that his National Democratic Congress (NDC) is able to capitalise on its stunning 9-6 victory at the polls on June 23 against the dominant New National Party (NNP) of defeated Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
He said that Congress should have already started a massive registration drive to bring in new members and to make Grenadians feel a sense of wanting to be a permanent part of the ruling party.
“Now that you have the party fever, people identify with the NDC and they win, you want to give them a chance to be part of the ownership of the party – Take it while it’s hot, while it’s warm,” he told THE NEW TODAY in an exclusive interview.
According to the political expert, the NDC has been able to beat NNP which has dominated the political landscape in Grenada over the past 25 years through a “groundswell” of support and the immediate task ahead now for the party “is to maintain the groundswell.”
“It’s not the St George’s middle class that makes the groundswell – it’s the natural people (in many of the constituencies outside of the capital city),” he said.
The political expert suggested that the NDC General Secretary Learrie Barry has a most critical role to play and should be thinking of ensuring that the party goes more and more into the various constituencies, villages and in the many Polling Divisions and make direct contact with the people at the grassroots level.
He said that emphasis should be placed now and in the coming weeks and months on registering persons to join the Congress and become a member of the party by giving them a registration form and to see the task ahead as one intended “to make people become part of the NDC.”
“…You register people for the party – some of them might be able to pay now and some might not be able to pay – tell them that they can pay later if they don’t have the money now. You give them their membership card,” he added.
This period, he said, is an opportunity for NDC to cement itself politically so that when people visit the various constituency offices around the island many of them will be happy to flash their membership card as it gives them “a sense of belonging” to Congress.
“That is how you get them to work (for the party). That is the first bedroom – make people belong,” he remarked.
He said the NDC should now be thinking of designing a party form for members, one that is not sophisticated but “simple and basic.”
The political expert also called on Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell to urge all his elected Members of Parliament as Representatives of the constituencies along with the various Caretakers to put together a physical or digital file on all the registered members of the party to help them to be in a better position to attend to the needs of their constituents.
He said that all the data will be there and the MP or Caretaker no longer has to “bust your brain about what we did the last time (the person visited the office)” as the relevant information will be at hand “on all the needs of the people.”
He urged Congress to refrain from doing as the Keith Mitchell-led NNP which often “takes people for granted” and like some parties across the region whose elected MP’s abuse the day set aside to meet with their constituents.
According to the official, some of these representatives “take the day as a holiday – they just feel they should stand up and talk to people with their hands on their waist, listen to people and by the time they go in the car, you forget what they say.”
“Do things in an organised way … a structured way that builds relationships, that builds comradery and that belongs to the party,” he remarked.
The political expert is optimistic that if this approach is implemented by Congress, the party will reap the rewards of its June 23 victory at the polls as a lot of people will be calling the NDC party offices for their membership card.
That will also help, he said, to bring about people’s participation in the transformational agenda which was the main plank of the campaign message of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell.
In addition, he said that with the amount of road work being given out now, it is quite possible that some of these same people who are getting jobs under Congress “will want to be part of the party” if approached in the right way.
“That is the kind of people that will come out when Dickon (Mitchell) has a fundraiser to come out and help…,” he added.
The political activist also urged the NDC to see itself as “a coalition” with “core supporters” that came together to defeat Dr. Mitchell and his NNP just over two months ago at the polls.
He said the party at all times should remain as “the driving force of this coalition” that was put together for the election.
He stated that General Secretary Barry must now take the lead in building groups and not dispatch people to go and build groups.
“You have to go building groups (to continue winning at the polls),” he said.