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I toiled tirelessly for the JLP - Samuda

Published:Sunday | August 7, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Karl Samuda - File

THERE WAS a flurry of claims and counterclaims at the senior level of the party on Friday, that veteran politician Karl Samuda had resigned as campaign chairman, the only post he now holds in the JLP.

However, when contacted Samuda strenuously denied the claims. He seemed unable to conceal his emotion as he recounted how he toiled tirelessly for the JLP, after assuming the position of general secretary in 2005.

"I gave up my own constituency and time with constituents in order to make myself available almost full time," said Samuda. "I was spokesman for the party at a time when Portia Simpson Miller was enjoying more than 70 per cent popularity and our leader was about 30."

Samuda told The Sunday Gleaner that at the time he was very vocal in his quest to put his party on top. "When Portia Simpson Miller won the PNP presidential election in February 2006, she was nearly invincible. I was the one on radio, giving interviews to everyone left, right and centre and encouraging the labourites and telling them that time has a spanner to fit every nut. I remember that."

Samuda said he promised supporters that, over time, the JLP's strategy would emerge and the party would be victorious.

"At no stage have I ever in my political career given negative expressions. I might have my concerns but those are concerns that I have kept to myself, but I have always fought faithfully on behalf of the party and I am convinced that that positive thinking led to our victory."

He said this was complemented by an unprecedented media campaign that he led.

But some who have clearly aligned themselves to factions in the JLP declared that a new season of warfare has opened in the party, as one group is attempting to get rid of JLP leader Bruce Golding while the other is trying to move against people like Samuda.

The resignation

The relationship between Samuda and Golding soured during the Manatt-Dudus controversy in 2010 and, in so doing, opened a gash in the JLP that has festered.

Insiders claimed that Samuda raised the prospects of resigning as campaign director earlier in the week but was discouraged by some of his supporters.

However, in an interview with The Sunday Gleaner, Samuda adamantly declared that he had not submitted any resignation. "And if they want to do so (get rid of him), there is a process," he stressed.

The failure of an emergency officers' meeting at the party's Belmont Road on Friday failed to calm the tempest.

A well-placed party source said no decision was arrived at and JLP chairman Mike Henry was instructed to deal with the issue.

Henry confirmed that the matter was raised at the meeting, but said it was among a host of others that needed his attention and triggered the input of the requisite committees of the party.

"There is a body of persons who feel that the office between the campaign chairman has to be addressed," said Henry.

Golding was present at Friday's meeting but Samuda was not, as he is no longer a member of the officer corps of the party.

As The Sunday Gleaner sought answers, several prominent members, who were not comfortable to be drawn into a public row, expressed concern that this latest episode would further splinter the organisation.

"Boy, I don't know what to do now and the people involved have been there before," lamented one member.

Slighted or outdone

Asked whether he felt slighted or outdone by the treatment he perceived to have been meted out to him in the JLP, Samuda asserted: "No; because it is not in my DNA to allow difficulties to get the better of me, I am not that kind of person."

He added: "We all have options, and we must be free to exercise those options, any bitterness or resentment or quarrel about the exercise of those options, and there are times when you get very annoyed and upset but you can't allow that in any way to affect your life."

This is not the first time that a bitter fuss involving Samuda and Golding had spilled over in the public domain.

Samuda was the first casualty in the vicious Gang of Five dispute in which Golding as chairman of the JLP sided with then leader, Edward Seaga.

He was expelled from the party for failing to abide by the principles of collective responsibility, after making public comments about liberalisation of the economy that was being undertaken by the Michael Manley administration.

Asked if the current challenges was a case of déjà vu, Samuda responded: "Not really, I wouldn't say that. I think this is a matter that is more personal. But then again, politics is not a predictable thing."

gary.spaulding@gleanerjm.com