Community worker Rodney Grant has found himself at the centre of a storm of controversy over his announced intention to contest the next general election on a Democratic Labour Party (DLP) ticket.
Grant has said he planned to seek the nomination as the DLP flag bearer in St Michael South East to challenge the incumbent Santia Bradshaw of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in the poll constitutionally due in 2018.
However, news of this has stunned officials from both parties, with members of the BLP scratching their heads in disbelief.
They pointed out that as recently as two weeks ago the community activist was actively engaged in the business of the party.
“I cannot believe that Grant is seeking the nomination in St Michael South East on a DLP ticket since he chaired my party’s social policy committee up to two weeks ago. I do not understand what is going on,” one BLP Member of Parliament told Barbados TODAY this week.
“Yes, Grant did sit on the social policy committee of the BLP and on some occasions chaired meetings. I do not understand why he did it. I will be addressing this defection at the appropriate time. I will hold my peace at this juncture,” another Opposition MP stated.
Both parliamentarians asked not to be identified.
A video circulating on social media shows Grant chairing the BLP’s “People’s Assembly” on February 2, 2014 at Springer Memorial School on Government Hill, St Michael.
Grant yesterday refused to comment on the stir, telling Barbados TODAY, “I do not want to be drawn into that at this time”.
However, in an interview with Barbados TODAY last week, Grant, a close friend of former Minister of Social Transformation Hamilton Lashley, defended his decision to seek the DLP nomination.
Like Lashley, Grant was intimately involved with the DLP before switching allegiance to the then governing BLP. Lashley later jumped back to the DLP after it won the 2008 election.
“People can identify me with anything. I mean that is their right and it is also my right to determine where I want to go. But then Hamilton Lashley was a Dee [member of the DLP], he was also a Bee [member of the BLP] and now he is a Dee again. Lashley was a person of the people. Lashley knew he had to go into one of the two political parties to represent the people and whether it was the Dee or Bee it really did not matter to him.
“We have to move away from this partisan type of politics. At the end of the day, it is about representation, good representation. As I have always said people go into politics for different reasons. Some people enter politics to be ministers of Government so that they can benefit from all that goes with the office. Other people enter politics because they want to represent people and they know what representation is all about. I believe I know what representation is all about,” Grant said.
Meantime, banker Patrick Tannis, who Grant is trying to replace as the candidate, refused to be drawn into discussion on the controversy.
Tannis, who lost to the BLP’s Santia Bradshaw by ten votes in the 2013 election, remained the party’s caretaker for the constituency, DLP officials said.
“Controversies such as this are not in the interest of the constituents of St Michael South East. I prefer to steer clear
of the controversy.
“I have known Grant and his family for a considerable length of time and I have always found them to be respectable members of the Pine community. Many of them have left the community but I still consider them respectable persons. I cannot concentrate on this controversy since the people of St Michael South East need representation at this time,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Despite the interest shown by Grant, however, Tannis appears set to get the nod again, according to a member of the executive committee of the constituency branch who was confident that Grant would be outvoted when the branch meets to select its candidate.