Once again, the UNC has chosen the auspicious occasion of the Divali season to play politics and attack the PNM. One would recall that in 2012, the then UNC Chairman and Cabinet Minister, Jack Warner, criticized then Opposition Leader Keith Rowley’s attendance at the Divali Nagar. Warner implied that Dr Rowley’s attendance at the Nagar was sacrilegious and “reduced the opening of the Divali Nagar below its lofty and holy expectations". This unfortunate statement was also publically supported by fellow UNC Cabinet members such as Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj.
In similar fashion the UNC Opposition is seeking to score cheap political points by using a Divali celebration to level criticisms against the PNM. In this latest occurrence, the UNC Opposition members of Parliament for Princes Town and Couva North have sought to decry the PNM’s Divali Celebration held on the 27th October 2016. The member for Couva North, Ramona Ramdial expressed anger, calling the event an “insult to the Hindus” and stated that it amounted to a Bollywood show. The UNC Opposition MP went on to state, that the song and dance presentation by Ministers Al-Rawi and Young had no place at a Divali function. However, MP Ramdial’s statement seems conveniently selective and hypocritical when determining what is insulting and what is not, given the facts considered below.
There are a number of instances where Bollywood songs and performances have formed part of the program at the biggest Divali Celebration in the Country, the Divali Nagar. Take for example at this year’s Nagar, a featured Artist, Jyotica Tangri was brought down from India, courtesy Zee TV. This talented artist who performed at the Nagar is advertised online as a playback singer for Bollywood movies. Further in 2015, popular newspapers advertised the attendance at the Nagar of the three popular Bollywood Soap Opera stars, Surbhi Jyoti, Leena Jumani and Neha Marda. They not only attended but entertained fans and signed autographs. Also in 2015, an indigenous band from Ecuador performed at the Nagar and according to one popular newspaper report they, “captivated the audience with their indigenous musical talent and fusion with Bollywood songs”
But it is not only Bollywood stars and artists who graced the stage and performed Bollywood songs at the largest Divali Celebration of the Country. UNC members have appeared on stage at the Divali Nagar and performed Bollywood songs. It was reported in the media that at the Divali Nagar in 2013, UNC Minister Roodal Moonilal appeared on stage “to perform the Bollywood film song, “Baree Door Say Iyee Hai””. He repeated the feat in 2014 by again gracing the Nagar stage. The media reported, “Moonilal performed the Bollywood song “Prem Kahani Mein”.”
The Divali Nagar is the biggest Divali Celebration in the Country and as the few examples show, Bollywood entertainers and performances seem to be a common routine, forming part of the entertainment. On at least two occasions a sitting Minister in the UNC Government appeared on the stage and sang Bollywood songs. In many other instances actual Bollywood singers and actors are invited to perform and feature on the program. During these occurrences, the UNC did not perceive it as an insult, but when the PNM hosted its celebrations and some Bollywood songs were sung, it was singled out and considered an insult, warranting at least two disparaging statements from Opposition MPs. It is curious to know whether the MP for Couva North considered Minister Moonilal’s singing of Bollywood songs at the Divali Nagar an insult, and if so, why didn’t she issue a statement to that effect? The UNC’s hypocritical criticisms of the PNM’s Divali celebrations mask their true intent of seeking to score cheap political points with a Religious and National celebration as well as seeking to incite cultural, religious and racial divisiveness. This must be rejected and unwarranted attacks on the PNM by the UNC, when it seeks to promote the rich cultural heritage that this country has to offer, must stop.
Yours in PNM
Camille Robinson Regis