Splits hinder Indian Vote Swing

Splits Hinder Indian Vote Swing

BROWSING through the newspapers recently, a report about Tamils becoming
king-makers in Sri Lanka’s upcoming presidential election caught my attention. Recovering from a three-decade long brutal separatist war that ended last year, the 2.5 million Tamils there are being courted by political parties as their votes would swing election results.

This situation is very much similar to the position of Indian voters here. Following the 2008 general election, the Indian vote in Malaysia was seen as a tilting factor, hence they are king-makers, much like the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

The months that followed the 2008 election here saw many Indians feeling that they had finally reached political maturity. They felt they had “power”.

This feeling can be justified as in about 62 parliamentary and 130 state seats, they comprise 10 per cent or more of voters, enough to swing the results. But over the months, this feeling has slowly dissipated.

One major reason is that Indians are, once again, not united. There are now many Indian-based parties; so many that some are not known. People either have not heard about them or they are so insignificant that they are forgotten after a while.

The known ones are MIC, People’s Progressive Party, Indian Progressive Front, Malaysian Indians United Party and the new kid on the block, Malaysian Makkal Sakthi Party.

Then there is the yet-to-be registered Hindraf’s political wing, the
Human Rights Party, and the Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress.

One must also not forget that parties such as Gerakan, Parti Keadilan
Rakyat, DAP and Parti Sosialis Malaysia have sizeable numbers of Indian members. Pas has also joined in the fray with its Supporters Club.

MMSP, PPP and IPF are struggling with multiple splits in their parties. Many have questioned why there is a need for so many players in such a small field.

The Indian population here is just over two million but when we add up the supposed membership of each party, it is far more than the number of Indians in the country!

MMSP is the latest to face problems, with the sacking of its president,
R.S. Thanenthiran, barely three months after its grand launch. MIUP, started by Datuk K.S. Nallakaruppan, a former PKR leader, has almost disappeared from the
political radar.

All these parties claim to represent the Indian community and aim to improve their lot. It is all rhetoric. The only thing the proliferation of Indian-based parties show is that Indians are active politically.

The problem, however, is that the parties tend to be personality-based, thus explaining the splits and emergence of new parties. But the bigger and more interesting question is how will they impact Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat?

Many issues affecting the Indian community have cropped up since the 2008 general election. MMSP was widely seen as a vehicle to counter MIC, which is struggling to revamp itself. One observation is that the political divisions among Indians may be beneficial to BN but does not bode well for Pakatan.

With the community split, their votes will not be enough to swing election results as they did in 2008. The 2008 election saw Indian votes swing almost en-bloc to Pakatan, inflicting unexpected damage on BN.

Pakatan’s Indian vote bank now appears to be bleeding. This is partly due to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s efforts on regaining the community’s support and confidence.

Najib, who is BN chairman, may be better off engaging the Indian community
directly rather than rely on Indian-based parties. Indians, on their part, must get their act together and move more cohesively. The community is losing patience with Indian politicians who do not have its interests at heart.

V.Shankar Ganesh

source : http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/articles/20100117093802/Article/index_html


January 24, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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