~ But accepted due to tension between Brison, Grisha ~
PHILIPSBURG--President of Parliament Sidharth “Cookie” Bijlani responded on Thursday to statements made by United People’s (UP) party founder and former leader Theo Heyliger, who had said in a recent radio interview that Bijlani took the top Parliament post to be the first Indian national to hold the function.
Bijlani, who is abroad recovering from recent heart bypass surgery, said he has a high level of respect for the position of President of Parliament. He indicated that he did not want the position, but accepted it because of the misunderstandings between UP leader Rolando Brison and then-Chairperson of Parliament Grisha Heyliger-Marten.
The tension and misunderstanding between Heyliger-Marten and Brison dragged on for some time and was an issue that Bijlani said he had attempted to have the two parties resolve by urging them to sit and iron out their differences.
Heyliger’s remarks about Bijlani were made in an interview on SOS Radio with host Billy D when speaking about his wife Heyliger-Marten being fired as President of Parliament and Bijlani being voted into the position.
“I think what he [UP leader Rolando Brison – Ed.] did with Cookie was say, ‘Listen, I will make you President of Parliament if you agree to fire her [Heyliger-Marten].’ And Cookie, I think, looked at it like he would be the first Indian to ever sit as President of Parliament, let’s make history and let’s fire Grisha. So, I think that was … very devious,” Heyliger said in the radio interview.
Bijlani told The Daily Herald on Thursday: “I believe the misunderstanding and confusion between MP Grisha and MP Brison has been going on for a long time and if I wanted to become the President of Parliament, I would have taken a stand then,” adding that he and UP Minister Omar Ottley had always been “a soft shoulder” that both Heyliger-Marten and Brison made use of to “get their balance and focus back.”
“I know a lot about what transpired and what was happening, but I would address that when I am back in St. Maarten. For now, I just want everyone to know that the President of Parliament point came in at the very last [moment] and I personally dodged the meetings for at least three to four months. I never wanted to get this position and wanted either one of them to stay as president,” said Bijlani. He said he had implored on both Heyliger-Marten and Brison to meet and try and work out their differences last year to no avail.
During his radio interview Heyliger had said that the party was hijacked similar to the way terrorists take over a plane. Heyliger had copyrighted the party and its likeness. These include the public names associated with the United People’s Party Association: UP party, United People’s party, as well as the party’s logos and Pantone colours. He said there was a coup to fire his wife, which he saw as “a very nasty thing. In all of my time, I can’t remember ever firing one of my own," Heyliger had said.