Kamalanathan takes on Zaid
The MIC has agreed to field its information chief P Kamalanathan as the Barisan Nasional candidate for the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat. Barisan deputy chairman Muhyiddin Yassin will make the official announcement later today.
It is learnt that MIC president S Samy Vellu held a last-minute discussion with Muhyiddin to keep to his (Samy Vellu’s) preferred choice to field the party’s No 2 G Palanivel.However, it was decided that Kamalanathan, dubbed the MIC’s ‘information warrior’ , is the better person to be the Barisan’s flag bearer because of the current ‘political climate’ in the Hulu Selangor.
Some quarters had said that putting Palanivel would be fielding a ‘recycled leader’ but what the electorate wants is a forward-looking candidate to take the onslaught of the rival Pakatan Rakyat camp.Earlier, speculation had been rife that Hulu Selangor MIC Youth chief V Mugilan would be named the coalition’s candidate.He, however, fell out of favour in the wake of a suit he has filed against the Tamil Youth Bell Club, even though he is withdrawing from it.
Mugilan, also the MIC deputy youth chief, was contesting the club’s decision last year to sack him from his position as the club’s vice president.Following his legal suit against the club, Mugilan was later removed from the position of Selangor Bell Club secretary as the club saw the action as humiliating to the organisation.
At the same time, another MIC group lobbied for the leadership to pick Kamalanathan as the candidate.He is known among his circle of friends a ‘the information warrior’ due to his ambition to get the party fully engaged in information technology and embrace the new media.His style appeals to the young , who are mostly Internet savvy.
When the names of the two young prospects surfaced, the older members in the party were not happy as they were already preparing to canvass for deputy president Palanivel.The four-term MP had, after all, only lost by a mere 198 votes to Zainal Abidin in the 2008 general elections and he is still a well-respected politician among the constituents, they said.
Nevertheless, now that the Barisan campaigners in Hulu Selangor already know who they are fighting for, it would be another task for the leaders to convince party workers that the coalition had made the right choice in Kamalanathan.
The rival Pakatan Rakyat has already named Zaid Ibrahim as their flag bearer but it is still trying to convince party workers that he is the best nominee among several names submitted to the leadership council for consideration.
Likewise, the Barisan has to also deal with the discontent that has been brewing from within eversince the seat fell vacant on March 25, following the death of incumbent MP Dr Zainal Abdin Ahmad.
Umno, which initially lobbied for the candidature of former mentri besar Muhammad Muhammad Taib has stopped staking claims on the parliamentary seat after Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak said the Barisan representative will be from the MIC.
However, when Najib kept silent on the preferred candidate, there has been manouvres within the MIC to push for Mugilan’s candidacy.At the same time, another young faction pushed for the leadership to pick Kamalanathan as the candidate.
At the outset of the campaigning it was already known that Samy Vellu had only proposed Palanivel’s name to be fielded.Word from the grapevine has it that some MIC workers have threatened to close the party’s by-election operations centre if the Barisan leadership rejected Palanivel.
In Kuala Kubu Baru, 70 MIC branches called for an emergency meeting on Wednesday to declare their support for Palanivel.At another function, Puchong MIC chairman A Saktivel said many divisions have confidence in Palanivel to wrest the seat back from the PKR.
“He is a heavyweight who can easily take on Zaid. In the spirit of the Barisan consensus, the Barisan chairman should endorse a candidate recommended by a component party leader,” he told a press conference attended by 18 division chiefs and their representatives.
Saktivel said the divisions were disturbed by media reports which indicated that Umno was promoting Mugilan.
“We are unhappy that Umno is trying to dictate terms in deciding the candidate when it is the prerogative of the MIC and its president,” he said.
However, Hulu Selangor by-election secretariat director Satim Diman s aid Umno would support any candidate that the Barisan fielded.
“We will campaign hard to secure victory for Barisan, regardless of which component party the candidate is from.”
In the Pakatan camp, the decision to field Zaid had not gone down well with certain groups. They walked out when his name was announced as the candidate on Tuesday.They are not happy that Zaid, from Kelantan, is being fielded in a Selangor constituency.
It will not surprise political observers if an independent candidate emerges from the dissenting groups to undermine Zaid’s chances of winning.
“There are many people of calibre here…why should we elect a candidate from outside, like the PKR candidate from Kelantan? ” asked Felda settler Johan Mohd Diah, 31.
The settler from the Sungai Tenggi Felda scheme, who claims to repr esent about 20,000 young voters in Hulu Selangor, will stand as an Independent.
Another aspiring ‘dark horse’ who has announced he would go into the fray as an Independent, is former Hulu Selangor MIC division deputy chairman VS Chandran.
Currently suspended for one year by the party, the 56-year-old businessman said he had already paid the RM5,000 deposit to contest in the election.
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