Sothinathan in MIC race
By Baradan Kuppusamy
KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 — Datuk S. Sothinathan’s candidacy for the MIC deputy presidency is putting Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu in a spot.
Samy now has to choose to endorse one of his two loyalists – the party vice-president or the incumbent No.2 Datuk G. Palanivel.
Another contestant Datuk S. Subramaniam, Samy Vellu’s arch rival for over 30 years, is also contesting after losing the position to rival Palanivel in 2006.
The contest for the number two post has heated up although the election is only in September with all three contestants criss-crossing the country holding dinner campaign meetings and “forums” discussing the future of the MIC and how to win back the support of the Indian community which had voted Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in the 2008 general election.
Samy Vellu had publicly promised that the race for the number two post would be a “free-for-all” and that he would receive the winner as his “legitimate number two and eventual successor”.
However all three candidates, including Subramaniam, are claiming they have the support and “blessing” of Samy Vellu to contest for the deputy post.
Subramaniam, although a long-time foe, claims Samy Vellu and himself patched up after March 8 to end their rivalry.
“He (Samy) also promised Subramaniam that he would succeed when he retires and we hope he would stick to that promise,” a Subramaniam supporter said.
“This is why Subramaniam had set aside his personal ambitions and worked for party unity even when Samy Vellu was weak and vulnerable after losing in Sungei Siput,” he said.
“We believe Samy Vellu would realize Subramaniam is the true inheritor of the MIC and would ensure he succeeds and unites the party for the future,” the Subramaniam supporter said.
However Palanivel’s supporters argue Samy Vellu is unlikely to hand over power to his arch rival of 30 years. “He simply won’t do this as the grassroots, which were made to see Subramaniam as an enemy, would rebel.”
A Bernama report last week quoting sources that Samy Vellu had endorsed Palanivel as deputy president and successor had angered supporters of Subramaniam and Sothinathan.
The Subramaniam-controlled Makkal Osai Tamil daily criticised the story as “false and unethical” and also questioned the independence of the writer.
Supporters of Sothinathan were also incensed but Palanivel’s supporters were overjoyed as the story, although not widely-published was a boost to their camp.
Sothinathan told The Malaysian Insider he was running to unify the party, help the president win back public support, adding that he had always been loyal to Samy Vellu and the MIC.
“I have informed Samy Vellu of my contest and he has wished me well. He also asked me to think carefully before jumping in,” Sothinathan said.
All three contestants are hoping Samy Vellu, who personally commands about 850 delegates from the 1500 who would decide the outcome, would throw his weight behind them to ensure victory.
MIC observers said for Samy Vellu, it is a toss up between Sothinathan and Palanivel with Subramaniam standing little chance of getting the president’s votes.
“There is simply too much bad blood between them for Samy Vellu to hand over the party to him,” they said.
Subramanian’s supporters are aware of this and have other plans in case Samy Vellu fails to honour his “agreement” with Subramaniam.
“It is possible Subramaniam might even pull out of the contest if Samy Vellu does not honour the promise. If this happens, we have a Plan B,” said the supporter who declined to be named as he was also contesting in the September elections.