WHEN PNM EXPELLED HARRY

Harry Ragoonanan has been a PNM stalwart for a generation.

An innate backroom operative, Ragoonanan has been an enduring strategist over the past few decades and has overseen certain southern constituencies.

He is a self-confessed “Manningite”, having been a close advisor to the former prime minister and involved in purchases in the transport sector.

He is a venerable personality, who was also known as a most avid supporter and father figure of boxer Giselle Salandy.

Relations with the Rowley administration fell apart early o’clock, over matters pertaining to the acquisition of a vessel for the inter-island run.

There were serious allegations and counter-claims.

The PNM partisan joined the anti-government Devant Maharaj and Nyeree Alfonso in publicly criticising the purchase of the Galleons Passage.

The ruling party threw disciplinary charges against their long-time adherent, accusing him of irregularities over a bus contract.

Ragoonanan says he was denied natural justice: He never got an opportunity to answer the charges.

“It was a kangaroo court,” he insisted.

Last Saturday – some 18 months after being accused – he was expelled from the party which he had served for decades.

Notably, the party has not referred the issue to the police.

Ragoonanan claimed the PNM’s constitution stipulates that charges must be dismissed if the matter is not resolved within six months.

He is aggrieved, and is pondering his legal options.

He said he learnt that almost half the number of General Council members abstained on the vote.

He remains bothered over the purchase of Galleons Passage, which, he insists, is not suitable for the perilous inter-island run.

The vessel was bought by a committee Finance Minister Colm Imbert, who, as PNM chairman presided over his expulsion.

Recently-disclosed documents show that a technical committee had shortlisted three appropriate vessels.

The recommendations were rejected and the committee disbanded.

The Imbert team had no maritime expertise.

Ragoonanan claimed that when Galleons Passage was publicly revealed, it was already painted in red, white and black.

Expulsion from a political party is fairly rare and usually associated with the member’s ties with a rival body.

In the case of the ousting of Ragoonanan, there are allegations of financial wrongdoing with the public’s purse.

“It’s not a happy day for me,” Imbert said of the expulsion.

“These were trumped-up charges, and I never got due process,” Ragoonanan stated.

We have not heard the last of this issue – or of Harry Ragoonanan, the behind-the-scenes political functionary.

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