MIC deputy president G Palanivel is said to have been dropped from the Barisan Nasional's list of candidates for the Hulu Selangor by-election.
However, Barisan chief Najib Abdul Razak is still keeping the name of the chosen candidate close to his chest although he disclosed that the person would be from the MIC.
"The Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat will be given to the MIC," he told reporters on Wednesday.
On the MIC nominee who will carry the Barisan banner, he only said he will "decide on the candidate later."
The Prime Minister also called for a stop on the speculations about the Barisan representative.
Palanivel was earlier speculated to be the Barisan's choice to contest in the seat, following the death of PKR's Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad last month.
Palanivel, a former Women, Family and Community Development deputy minister, is party president Samy Vellu's preferred successor to lead the MIC.
In the 2008 general election the veteran MP was defeated by Zainal Abidin by a 198-vote majority.
Consulted with Umno and MCA
Sources say that Hulu Selangor MIC division Youth chief V Mugilan will be the Barisan candidate when the coalition's elections director and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin makes the announcement on April 15.
Sources also said Palanivel was dropped by the Barisan leadership after Najib consulted Umno and MCA leaders over the past week.
One possible reason to drop Palanivel is a 'face-saving' attempt by the Barisan as the ruling coalition could not afford to field a 'giant' and lose.
Barisan can face a tough fight for the seat as Pakatan Rakyat is expected to field prominent lawyer-turned- politician Zaid Ibrahim.
However, Pakatan has yet to officially announce the name of its candidate.
Sources said that it would be easier for the Barisan to take the defeat of a newbie MIC candidate.
Whatever the reason, if the speculation is correct, the axing of Palanivel as the candidate will be a big slap on the face of the MIC and its leaders.
Hulu Selangor is a traditional MIC seat and Palanivel had served as its MP for four terms until the 2008 defeat.
Anything can happen
But observers are not ruling out a BN victory altogether.
They pointed to the internal problems within Pakatan, saying that people are also fed-up with Pakatan leaders bickering among themselves.
They also said the fact that several PKR lawmakers had left the party showed that things are not all that rosy in the opposition party.
Observers noted that the late Zainal Abidin had not been well since winning Hulu Selangor in 2008 and was unable to serve the constituents.
The former deputy Selangor menteri besar was a senior Selangor Unmo leader before he left the party to join PKR in 2005. Zainal Abidin died on March 25 due to brain cancer.
'I will ensure Barisan wins'
Meanwhile, Najib said all component parties of the Barisan would give their full backing to the chosen candidate from the MIC.
"If we lose, it is not the MIC that has lost but Barisan. If we win, both MIC and Barisan win," said Najib, when addressing the Selangor Barisan Nasional Convention in Shah Alam.
Najib, who heads the Selangor Barisan and the Selangor Umno liaison committee said: "I have to ensure Barisan wins in Hulu Selangor."
Referring to the 2008 general election results, he said it indicated that people had rejected Barisan in Selangor.
However, he believes the rejection is only temporary and not a message that the people wanted Pakatan.
"They want the Barisan to change," he said, adding that change must be made at all levels for the coalition to successfully convince the people that the time has come for Selangor to be returned to the Barisan.
Speaking at a press conference later, he said the outcome of the by-election would be a stepping stone towards a Barisan recovery in the state.
Nomination day for the by-election is on April 17 and polling on April 25. — Malaysian Mirror