DEOKIESINGH BEGAN UNDER MANNING
The last time Vidya Deokiesingh’s profile was in the public domain as much as it is now, was in 2015 when he was presented as the PNM’s general election candidate for Siparia—a time when PNM was tipped to win government.
Last week, at the PNM’s two-year milemark in government, Deokiesingh was again spotlighted, however at the centre of allegations in the Petrotrin oil issue.
This, regarding an internal audit report on investigations over January to June 2017 into alleged volume discrepancies.
After Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar last weekend broke allegations in the August 17, 2017, report which pertained to investigations up to then, the Energy Ministry stated Petrotrin had indicated investigations were being done and more information had been expected on the probe.
Energy Minister Franklin Khan said following leak of the report, the public became “anxious” on the outcome and Petrotrin’s board met on the issue last week. The board delivered a final report on the completed investigation to Khan on Thursday. Government sources said yesterday the report will be laid in Cabinet this week.
Lost badly to Kamla in 2010
Deokiesingh, however, has been mum, not answering calls yesterday.
PNM’s list of 2015 general election candidates gave his occupation as “hospitality officer”. A Linked-in site stated he was a hospitality officer at Petrotrin.
Former PNM deputy leader Joan Yuille-Williams who had traditionally co-ordinated PNM constituencies, especially southern, was unavailable yesterday. She was among those photographed congratulating Deokiesingh in 2009 after his re-election as Siparia Regional Corporation alderman.
The corporation is where his political career with the PNM began: chairing that corporation from 2006 to 2010 under the Patrick Manning PNM administration.
At the end his term in 2009, Deokiesingh was quoted as saying he was sure he would have returned as alderman and “wouldn’t have suffered” the same fate as UNC’s Suruj Rambachan who was voted out of office.
In 2009, Deokiesingh was among a long list of people in an Integrity Commission notice concerning people who failed to file IC returns (2009). He was among six Siparia Regional Corporation officials listed.
In 2010 Deokiesingh was chosen by PNM’s Screening Committee—headed by Manning—as its general election candidate to challenge Siparia MP Persad-Bissessar, then Opposition Leader. In that fateful year when Persad-Bissessar’s People’s Partnership won a landslide victory against Manning’s PNM, Deokiesingh lost badly to Persad-Bissessar in Siparia—4,037 votes to her 15,808.
However, when the political tide turned against the PP, Deokiesingh was again chosen in March 2015—this time by the PNM’s screening team headed by Keith Rowley—to fight Persad-Bissessar in Siparia in that year’s general election.
When he was asked what changed between 2010 and 2015 that convinced him to try again with the hope of different results, Deokiesingh is quoted saying:
“You know, I’m very positive and we also look at divine intervention. Things can happen. You know in a horse race, sometimes (with) the favourite just before the line—things happen. So I am there neck and neck working with the constituency.”
Deokiesingh did not win though PNM did. He was among PNMites appointed to state boards three months after PNM won. He was appointed to the Lake Asphalt of T&T Board—along with seven others—in December 2015.
Last Friday in Parliament, Prime Minister Keith Rowley said following the alleged Petrotrin issue, Deokiesingh said he would resign from the board and the resignation was expected shortly.
CLAIMS ON AUDIT MAY HAVE PREJUDICED PROBE
Sources said yesterday that Persad- Bissessar’s claims on the audit may have prejudiced probe of the matter which was ongoing and possibly breached the rights to fair hearing where allegations were made. They noted the same thing occurred with the report into the collapse of the Las Alturas structure where former Udecott heads Calder Hart and Noel Garcia sued after statements were made based on that report.