Religion and race factors in PNM, UNC

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Racial tensions have been heightened in TT in the lead-up to and immediately following the general election. The purpose of this letter is to present facts and ask relevant questions based on those facts.

According to the 2011 census, 35.4 per cent of the population was East Indian, 34.2 per cent was African, 15.2 per cent, mixed other, and 7.7 per cent, mixed African and East Indian. Roman Catholics accounted for 21.6 per cent of the population, Hindus, 18.2 per cent, Pentecostals/Evangelicals/Full Gospel, 12.0 per cent, Spiritual Shouter Baptists, 5.7 per cent, Anglicans 5.7 per cent, and Muslims 5.0 per cent.

The UNC first contested a general election in 1991. It has been in existence for at least 29 years. The PNM was formed in 1955, 65 years ago.

All past political leaders of the UNC have been East Indian. For at least 28 of its 29 years of existence, the UNC has been led by a Hindu (I am unsure about the religious beliefs of Winston Dookeran, whose tenure as leader was short-lived). Why has no African, mixed, Catholic or Muslim member of the UNC been considered suitable to lead the party for any meaningful amount of time?

Why has no female, East Indian, Hindu, Shouter Baptist or Muslim member of the PNM ever been selected leader in its 65-year history?

Given their history, can either party honestly claim that race, religion and sex are factors that play no role in the selection of political leader? If they cannot, should we really be surprised that members of particular races and religions identify with one party and not the other?

When can we hope to see an African, mixed or Catholic leader of the UNC? When can we hope to see a female, East Indian or Hindu leader of the PNM?

RAYMALA GOBIN