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By Terry Joseph
September 16, 2006

Political power, they tell me, is potentially more damaging to the brain than psychotropic substances and capable of permanent mind-altering consequences after just one term in office so, given the duration of Basdeo Panday's stewardship as helmsman of a succession of parties; he may well be suffering the effects of an overdose.

Frankly, I tried to avoid that conclusion but nothing else fully explains the string of garrulous outbursts coming from him as the United National Congress (UNC) party elections draws near except, of course, Mr Panday is simply "Bazodee,'' another plausible option, given the gentleman's performance in recent time, which outstrips even his most eccentric recitals of the past.

Mr Panday evidently cannot exist outside the political mainstream and although he repeatedly volunteered to demit office as political leader of the UNC, as every deadline approached he found a different reason to postpone exiting, implying the party cannot survive without his guidance; a position exactly opposite to that held by those eager to organise his farewell function.

Some 18 months ago, he first gave senior colleagues his word about stepping down, then began rescheduling at every sequence, apparently desperate for a niche that would allow him to determine the party's flight-path from a seat well outside the cockpit; thinking up a series of excuses until he hit on the model that would make him chairman and anoint Winston Dookeran as political leader.

Even so, he seems discontent, developing vituperative antagonism toward former buddy Jack Warner who, insiders say, he has openly accused of trying to buy "we party,'' indicating through deliberate use of the first-person plural that Mr Warner and others like him are merely interlopers, trespassing where they do not belong; introducing divisiveness on the basis of ethnicity and triggering a hate-campaign.

Ironically, it was Mr Warner (and others like him) who were invited by Mr Panday himself to help devise a UNC leadership succession plan. He agreed to leave the political leader's office in exchange for chairmanship of a charity foundation that would afford him social clout which, no doubt, he would eventually massage into political presence.

Indeed, Mr Panday has given clear indication that he is not about to take a back seat and will still seek to drive the day-to-day politics from a position of larger authority. Speaking Tuesday at a small gathering in Charlieville, he admitted wanting the chairmanship "because Dookeran will need support and strength,'' the leader adding that he refuses to ride off into the sunset, "never to be seen or heard of again.''

And now dirty tricks have set in. Rumour has it that Mr Panday is making statements like, "They just want to throw me out of the party and don't even want to make me a trustee, 'self.'' Fact is, the UNC executive has no position of trustee so, if Mr Panday really said this, he is being more than merely mischievous. There are other spin stories too, mostly geared toward character diminution of those who dare oppose the optimum leader.

Who among us hasn't heard the one about Dr Bhoe Tewarie carrying Mr Dookeran's nomination papers for Mr Panday's approving signature, only to be himself invited to run for the top office? Fact is: No such thing happened. Mr Dookeran's documents were taken to the office by his constituency chairman, Anand Persad, but the gossip involving Dr Tewarie remains the more popular version of that event.

Actually, the sheer number of anecdotes involving Dr Tewarie should tell astute listeners that his name is being linked to all manner of manoeuvres for ignoble purpose. We are also hearing Mr Dookeran's ascendancy is temporary, paving the way for Dr Tewarie to take over, not unlike Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj replacing Kamla Persad-Bissessar as attorney general within the first two months of the Panday administration.

And upon becoming political leader, they further say, Dr Tewarie will, at first opportunity, replace His Excellency Dr Max Richards with President Ken Gordon, the implication here being that the Principles of Fairness group (of which they are both high-profile members) would stage a palace coup not long after the UNC was returned to power; a way of sullying the committee's declared non-partisan stance.

Of course, all these machinations depend on the UNC winning the next general election, a hurdle that grows exponentially higher with each new round of party-generated bacchanal.

You would think the rumour millers know this except, of course, they are all completely bazodee.

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