Princes Town MP Barry Padarath in a press release on the eve of Divali 2016 has slammed the government for what he describes as disrespectful behaviour towards the Hindu community. Padarath criticised the government’s poor showing of support through its funding for Divali and Ramleela activities. He stated that many organizations had to cancel their celebrations due to the lack of funding from government. The MP indicated that the funds for this year’s celebrations were inadequate and woefully low.
Padarath stated that the government’s utterances about curtailing expenditure in difficult economic times was a farce and this was evident in the areas that the government has decided to place focus on with frivolous spending. He further criticised Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley and his government for discriminating against the Hindu community and indicated that the poor funding for Divali 2016 is a continuation of the PNM’s discrimination against the Hindu community. The Princes Town MP stated that he will not accept the excuse of harsh economic times for the poor funding especially when government has indicated that they purchased the Cazabon paintings for three million dollars to preserve the heritage of Trinidad and Tobago.
Padarath stated that this was a contradiction coming from the government where they focus on purchasing luxury items such as the paintings during a harsh economic climate for the purpose of heritage preservation yet they starve institutions and organizations who promote and preserve culture.
Padarath lamented that it was the PNM administration that refused the Maha Sabha a radio license in the past and several acts of discrimination against the Hindu community has been illustrated in both their past and present actions.
He also recalled that just recently Opposition Members of Parliament had to bring to the attention of the Parliament and the national community the issue of the lights being turned off on recreation grounds while the Ramleela celebrations were being enacted. The Member of Parliament for Princes Town together with his Parliamentary colleagues also brought to light that the National Ramleela Facility in Felicity received no funding in the development program of 2016-2017 while the government has focused on the National Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Steel Symphony.
Padarath also placed attention on what he described as blatant discrimination in the education sector. He stated that many denominational schools including Hindu schools have received no funding in the development fund 2016-2017. He indicated that the construction of Shiva boys and Parvati Girls Hindu College started under the former government and was in an advance stage of completion before the People’s Partnership left office. Padarath stated that in the Development fund 2016-2017 on page 289 no funds have been allocated for the completion of these schools.
The Princes Town MP who shadows the portfolio of Community Development, Culture and the Arts for the Opposition United National Congress called on the government to be fair and equitable to all the people of Trinidad and Tobago including the Hindu Community. He praised members of the Hindu Community for the contribution they have made to national development and called on them to speak out against discrimination as they seek to promote their religious and cultural activities.
Padarath further stated that he will continue to speak out inside and outside of the Parliament against discrimination not only for the Hindu community but also for all those that cannot speak out for themselves and that he will continue to fight for equality and fairness for all the people of Trinidad and Tobago. He reminded the PNM government that the Hindu community like many others have survived and triumphed like light over darkness despite the discrimination they faced and continue to face.