Friday, April 09, 2010
Different candidate? Najib will not risk it
There is intense lobbying for the Hulu Selangor seat in the MIC camp, with sources claiming that there are those “jumping over” its president S Samy Vellu.
Many names have cropped up over the past week, with some saying that it would be Hulu Selangor MIC Youth chief V Mugilan or perhaps even the party's information chief P Kamalanathan.
On Wednesday, party sources claimed that MIC deputy president G Palanivel, the party's original nominee, had been dropped because of opposition from various quarters.
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak added more coal to the furnace of speculation, when he said that he would decide on the candidate. He, however, confirmed that the seat would be given to MIC.
Should the prime minister, who is also the Barisan Nasional chairman, opt for someone else, it would be a blow for both the president and deputy president of MIC.
Observers told FMT that Najib would not risk shaming the two veterans.
A reminder for Samy Vellu
According to them, the prime minister's remark did not hint that he had another name in mind but rather to drive home the point, especially to Samy Vellu, on who the boss is.
The MIC president had ruffled feathers when he jumped the gun by naming Palanivel as the candidate, when it is the BN chairman who has the final say on this, a day after the Hulu Selangor incumbent Zainal Abidin Ahmad died.
This is a crucial by-election for Najib since he is the Selangor Umno chief, and irking Samy Vellu and Palanivel would be like playing Russian roulette.
“We all know how Samy Vellu is. In political years, he was an adult when Najib was still in his diapers. So he would not take it lying down.
“Even during last year's MIC election, when Najib openly urged the delegates to vote for change, they stuck to the president's line-up,” pointed out one insider.
It is an open secret that Najib has increasingly alienated Samy Vellu based on the belief that the further he moves from the MIC president, the closer the Indian community would come to BN.
And it is a known fact that support for MIC and its president of three decades had dwindled in the face of mounting allegations.
'Umno taking over MIC' perception
Agreeing that the prime minister would be treading on thin ice by humiliating Samy Vellu and Palanivel, another insider noted that the 73-year-old MIC president still commands a cult following.
“He is like the Godfather to many in his party. They may grumble in the background and plot his downfall, but at the end of the day, they'll kiss his hand and do his bidding,” he said.
“So if Najib names another candidate, there would be protest votes and the MIC machinery would grind to a halt.
“It would open up a pandora's box, with some seeing it as Umno having usurped the leadership role in MIC, the implications of which would reveberate until the next general election,” he added.
In view of this, the insider stressed that Palanivel would eventually be named as the BN candidate come April 15.
Furthermore, he noted that Palanivel, given the misgivings of certain quarters, is a well-known figure in the constituency and has his own support base.
He is also said to share a good rapport with Najib and his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin.
Palanivel held the seat for four terms until the 2008 general election, when he was defeated by a razor-thin majority of 198 votes.
Election paraphernalia being printed
Meanwhile, an Umno source claimed that the party's local leaders have been informed that Palanivel is the candidate and have been instructed to give their full support.
“As for Mugilan, he is viewed as too young and untested material. The same applies for Kamalanathan, who is not from Hulu Selangor," said the source.
FMT also learnt that printing of election paraphernalia with Palanivel's photograph as the candidate is currently in the works.
The Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat, at one time considered to be a BN stronghold, is a Malay-majority semi-urban seat.
The constituency has about 63,000 voters, with Malays constituting 52.17 percent or 33,961 of them. Chinese make up 26.1 percent or 16,915 voters, Indians (19 percent or 12,549) while others (2.2 percent or 1,437). The seat has about 1,000 Orang Asli voters as well.