Fear of a repeat of a 1995 People's National Movement (PNM) defeat was spurned yesterday, when Prime Minister Patrick Manning signalled victory to be his, come Monday. Admitting that when he placed T&T in general election mode his image as prime minister was not a favourable one, Manning said the mammoth crowd gathered on the Eddie Hart Ground, Tacarigua, demonstrated the confidence citizens of T&T had in him. Visibly moved by party faithful who transformed the park into a sea of red, Manning said: "Never before have I seen a gathering of political people like this on Eddie Hart Grounds. I just cannot believe what I am seeing before me. "What this says is that the PNM is poised for its greatest victory in its 54-year history."
He recalled that at the PNM Special Convention at Chaguaramas, in March, when he directed the nomination of candidates to begin, many opposed his decision. "Eight weeks ago, at that time, the image of the political leader was the lowest it has ever been. Many people thought I had done the wrong thing. "While I do not want to talk too early, when I look at this audience I have no doubt that not only have we done the right thing, but we have succeeded in mobilising in a way that no political party ever mobilised in this country. "We are going to beat them in the East, West, North and South. We are going to beat them in Central and in Tobago. We are going to beat them. We are going to beat them," a confident Manning shouted, sending supporters in a frenzy with his trademark statements.
Warning supporters that electing the UNC coalition was a danger, Manning said the opponents were yet to announce what policies they intended to pursue. "The leader of that party is surrounded by some strange and strangely-oriented men, whose objective is anything other than to improve the quality of lives of citizens of T&T. "We know that if they should get into office Persad-Bissessar is going to be a tool in the hands of those gentlemen. However intelligent she might be, the losers are going to be you." While aiming his political guns at some members of the UNC coalition, Manning admitted that he had serious concerns about the party's chairman, Jack Warner.
"The one I fear the most. I am a man of very sound heart. I do not get scared very easily; but I am dead scared if Austin Jack Warner ends up as the Minister of Finance. "They talk about corruption. That is what we will have to call a kleptocracy." Encouraging supporters to accept all the gifts handed out by the UNC coalition to woo votes, Manning said: "If they sharing money, take it. Blackberry cellphones; make sure and line up for some of that, then go to the polling station and vote for the PNM and victory will be ours."