Visible signs of cracks are beginning to emerge within “the house” of the ruling New National Party (NNP) of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
Speculation is rife that elements that support former Foreign Affairs Minister, Peter David are making moves to position themselves to take over the leadership of the party.
Political activist, Kennedy Budhlall (KB) who claims to be a supporter of NNP and considered a loyalist of David has been promoting him as the best person to replace the ageing Mitchell.
However, Budhlall’s pitch for David in an interview with the Grenada Broadcasting Network (GBN), is not going down well within the NNP camp.
During a weekly Sunday radio programme which KB co-host with Andre Donald on a pro-NNP station in the north of the country, Budhlall was chastised for the comments made on succession within the party.
Donald led the broadside and accused Budhlall of having an agenda.
He indicated to him that “when he (Budhlall) opens his mouth” people listen to what he says and base their opinion on the politics based on what he has said”.
“Do not be as callous… and just say things just like that,” Donald warned Budhlall.
A caller to the programme accused Budhlall of trying to “mash up” the NNP just as how it was done in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) five years ago when the party was in government.
The caller felt that Budhlall’s comments are sending the message that there is confusion for leadership within the ranks of the NNP, and that should be done within the party and not on radio.
“We shouldn’t be campaigning about leadership in the party whether it is Peter David or not. I have no problem whether Peter David (is) vying for leadership or whether Nicholas Steele, or whosoever… but that shouldn’t be the discussion now.”
“I wonder if you (Budhlall) have the party interest at heart with what you’re doing because that is the signal what you’re sending to the NNP – making confusion about leadership.”
The NNP is preparing to hold its convention at the St. Andrew’s Anglican Secondary School (SAASS) within the next two weeks.
Although the position of political leader held by Prime Minister Mitchell is not expected to be challenged, the post of deputy political leader could generate some interest.
Moves are said to be afoot among NNP supporters on the sister isle of Carriacou to force 75-year old Deputy Prime Minister Elvin Nimrod to bow out of frontline politics and make way for a younger person to take over.
Nimrod who is the NNP Deputy Political Leader has not given any hints about not contesting the party post at the March 26 convention.
David who is the current Assistant General Secretary in the NNP has not given any public hint that he might seek election to the NNP No.2 spot.
The former foreign minister was at the centre of the bitter feud within the 2008-13 Congress government of then Prime Minister Tillman Thomas before he was expelled in September 2012.
Apart from David, several others were also forced out of the party – government ministers Joseph Gilbert, Karl Hood, and Glynis Roberts, along with Pastor Stanford Simon, attorney-at-law, Arley Gill, and trade unionist Chester Humphrey.
According to Budhlall, he is surprised that a lot of NNP members are taking issue with his statement after GBN sought his opinion on the present political situation in the country.
He said he understands party organisation, and there are certain things that have to be immediately done to prepare for the eventual departure of 70-year old Dr. Mitchell.
He held onto the position that after the next General Elections that within a year or two, PM Mitchell should step aside as the NNP Political Leader to ensure that there is a smooth transition as a means of preserving his legacy.
“It will be crazy for the Prime Minister to wait unit he becomes unpopular before he calls it a day. He should demit office when he is at the height of his popularity,” he told the programme.
Budhlall said his political analysis is based on what he sees, and hears, and he sees nothing wrong in him calling for Dr. Mitchell to pass the mantle of leadership to a successor.
“I will say it as it is, and as I know it, and I expect public reaction,” he remarked.
The political activist charged that after doing a recent political canvassing in Carriacou he felt it was time for Nimrod to step aside.
He indicated that the MP has reached the age of 75 and feels strongly that he was honest and fair in his criticism of Nimrod.
“I have no apology to make to him, no apology to make to anybody, it is my analysis,” he said.
Budhlall also continued his tirade against some NNP politicians for failing to do the political work in their constituency in order to reconnect with the people, and that he has no confidence in them.
Late last year, he singled out Economic Development Minister Oliver Joseph and predicted that he will be hard-pressed to hold onto the Constituency of St. David.
The political activist believes the coming year will be a crucial year for the incumbent NNP as people will be looking at how organised and disciplined it is as well as how committed are the leaders. “The NNP must cease being a loose organisation,” he said.
During the last weekend it was reported on social media that government ministers, Emmalin Pierre and Roland Bhola had tendered their resignations.
However, Bhola phoned into the radio programme and denied having resigned. “I have not resigned, and I have no intention to resign from the party,” he said.
Bhola who is the NNP General Secretary revealed that a succession plan is being put in place for Dr. Mitchell.
“There is work behind the scene and when the party is ready to make an announcement, the party will,” he told the programme.
According to Bhola, some people believe that Budhlall is a spokesman for the party, and that what he says is what the NNP would like to put out there to the public.
“For the sake of the party, let it be known that you (Budhlall) are expressing your opinion,” he said.
Speculation is rife that PM Mitchell could call the elections sometime between June and July.