PORT OF SPAIN — National Security Minister Jack Warner did not attend the opening of the Divali Nagar in Chaguanas on Sunday night because Opposition leader Dr. Keith Rowley was invited.
Warner has written to public relations officer of the National Council of Indian Culture, Surujdeo Mangaroo, to explain his absence from the opening ceremony.
In the letter dated November 3, Warner stated that his love for the Hindu community motivated his decision to stay away.
“When I was informed of Dr. Keith Rowley’s presence, at a time when the national community is so politically charged, the only logical process that followed suggested that such action would only serve to reduce this holy festival to political jostling, which, given the respect and love I have for the Hindu community, I chose not to be a part of now or ever,” stated Warner in his letter.
“It is in this regard that I chose not to attend because for me, to reduce the opening of the Divali Nagar below its lofty and holy expectations is sacrilegious,” he added.
Warner also stated he has been a “faithful servant” to the Hindu community for the past 20 years and “the service which I offered was predicated on the purity for which Hinduism stands, the honesty which it promotes and its moral values for which we all have become familiar”.
“It has never dawned upon me to align my presence to further any political gain, either personal or for my party, or to reduce the meaning of such an important event through any form of politicisation,” stated Warner.
Contacted yesterday, NCIC president Deokinanan Sharma told the Express no special invitation was sent to Rowley. He said all parliamentarians were invited to the Nagar’s opening ceremony every year.
“Every single year, we have invited all members of Parliament to the Nagar. Unfortunately, members of the PNM in recent years have not come. In previous years Mr. Manning came, Mrs. Joan Yuille-Williams came as minister of culture and also Marlene McDonald,” said Sharma.
“We just continued as we do every year and invited all parliamentarians. They (Opposition members) decided to come this year. They are welcome, all are welcome as any other guest, as all patrons,” said Sharma.
He added that the organisers had no information Warner was even planning to attend the opening ceremony. (Express)