MIC fumbling in the dark as election looms

Vasudevan Vamadevan K. Kabilan

Party insiders says MIC deputy president M. Saravanan is the supposedly safest bet for a seat in the general election, holding a slim majority with a strong challenge from PKR vice-president K. Saraswathy. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, November 1, 2022.

MIC is going into the general election with a great deal of uncertainty, party insiders said.

Sources have told The Malaysian Insight that the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition partner does not even know the number of candidates it will be able to field, let alone those who can win.

As BN lines up at the starting blocks, the only seat MIC is “confident” of keeping is Tapah, which deputy president M. Saravanan has held since the 2008 general election.

However, Saravanan is expected to face a bruising contest with Pakatan Harapan’s candidate: PKR vice-president K. Saraswathy, a former MIC student member with little love for the party.

Nevertheless, Saravanan’s camp is confident of re-election, despite only returning a slim 614-vote majority in 2018.

Meanwhile, the party is also uncertain if it will be nominating candidates for its other traditional seats or giving them up for one or two BN friendly parties like Makkal Sakti, which has been banging on the coalition’s front door, demanding it become an official party for some years now.

MIC had to give up Cameron Highlands to Umno shortly after the 2018 general election, after an embarrassing vote-rigging scandal forced a by-election.

Sivarraajh Chandran had originally claimed victory with a 597-vote majority, but the electoral court annulled the result after finding incidences of vote buying.

In the ensuing by-election in January 2019, Umno forced MIC to step aside and the Malay party’s candidate won with a more comfortable 3,238 majority. 

Umno has no intention of giving up Cameron Highlands, so has given the Malay-Chinese dominated Teluk Intan seat to MIC instead.

According to party insiders, the country’s oldest ethnic Indian party will be fielding candidates in Tapah, Sungai Siput, Hulu Selangor, Padang Serai, Sungai Buloh, Port Dickson, Segamat, Teluk Intan and Kapar.

Sources indicate MIC president S.A. Vigneswaran is a safe bet for Sungai Siput, while Saravanan will defend the Tapah seat for a third time.

Currently the names being bandied about for the remaining seats are vice president T. Mohan (Hulu Selangor), former youth chief Sivarraajh (Padang Serai), Selangor youth chief Punithan (Sungai Buloh), former deputy education minister P. Kamalanathan (Port Dickson), party treasurer M. Ramasamy (Segamat), vice president T. Murugiah (Teluk Intan) and women’s chief Mohana Muniandy (Kapar).

However, the party is most likely to cede Sungai Buloh to Khairy Jamaluddin, which means the party will be left with eight.

“There have been approaches made for BN to give MIC the Batu seat but we don’t know if this will work. We do have a candidate in mind for Batu,” a party leader from Kuala Lumpur said.

Trouble is brewing in Segamat as grassroots MIC supporters are apparently upset that local candidate M. Asojan (pictured) is being brushed aside for a parachute candidate from Perak. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, November 1, 2022.

There is also trouble brewing in Segamat, with Ramasamy’s candidacy.

Party insiders said that Segamat was originally earmarked for vice-president M. Asojan, who is a former Johor MIC chairman and executive councillor.

He was also appointed as a BN coordinator for Segamat after it went to PKR’s Edmund Santhara Kumar. 

Santhara has since joined Parti Bangsa Malaysia and Johor MIC smells blood, believing Asojan can deliver.

“That was until the party leadership decided to nominate a parachute candidate from Perak,” a party source said.

Local MIC leaders are unhappy with Ramasamy, saying that it was high time a local represented the party after more than 20 years of outsiders dropping in.

Likewise, party sources are also not confident of moving Kamalanathan to Port Dickson, where Negri Sembilan Menteri Besar Aminuddin Harun will stand instead of PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, the latter moving to Tambun.

“Going against the MB is going to be tough, especially when Kamalanathan has no presence in the constituency,” they said.

The Port Dickson seat was previously called Teluk Kemang and had been an MIC stronghold until it fell to PKR in 2008.

Since then, PKR had gained an upper hand in this constituency with a sizeable Indian vote (22%).

Party sources also said that there might be a last-minute swap, which will see the party giving up Kapar for another seat in Selangor.

Whatever the case, MIC will know for sure the battle it has to face later today when BN announces its candidates.

The Election Commission has fixed November 19 polling, November 5 for nomination and November 15 for early voting. – November 1, 2022.

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