Kuala Lumpur – Former MIC President Dato Seri G.Palanivel’s “sudden” appearance yesterday in a hastily arranged press conference is seen by political observers as a move to quell growing rumours that his faction is in disarray. Palanivel’s endorsement yesterday for his faction’s protests at the MIC Extra-Ordinary General Assembly (EGM) on Sunday (29 May 2016) is also seen as an attempt to counter speculations that he was not in support of the protests.
Palanivel’s reaction is not surprising as for the last few weeks there were clear signals of discord in the political activities that were taking place within his faction. Palanivel himself was missing in action for the last few weeks and there were no official statements from him.
However, some Tamil dailies and news websites aligned to him were publishing comments from Palanivel claiming he has given “exclusive” interviews to them. But he did not give any official statements in his face book or twitter pages.
Palanivel was much expected to attend his faction’s Central Working Committee meeting held in Kuala Kangsar last week. But he did not attend the meeting either!
Sothinathan chairs Palanivel faction’s CWC meeting
That CWC meeting in Kuala Kangsar was chaired by Datuk S.Sothinathan (pic) who acts as the defacto “No 2” for Palanivel’s faction. After chairing the meeting Sothinathan announced Palanivel’s faction would work hard for the victory of BN in both the Sungei Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections.
Then came MIC’s EGM on last Sunday. Datuk Ramanan and A.K.Ramalingam from Palanivel’s faction announced they will be attending the EGM with their supporters. However, there were no statements from Palanivel and Sothinathan on their stand on the EGM and whether they are in support of the protests carried out by Ramalingam and his group.
Such developments clearly showed disarray and disunity within Palanivel’s faction.
Social media and some websites were arguing that Palanivel is unaware of happenings within his faction and that he is merely being used as a figure-head by some leaders in his faction for their own political motives. There were also indications that Palanivel was not in control of his own group which was seen going in different directions and deviating from their original aim – to reclaim leadership of MIC!
Even at the press conference yesterday Palanivel was merely seen reading a prepared press statement.
Palanivel’s statement itself showed clear signs of conflicting moves. Palanivel announced appointment of A.K.Ramalingam (pic) as the coordinator for Sungei Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections, contradicting Sothinathan’s earlier announcements in Kuala Kangsar that he would be leading the campaigns for both the by-elections.
Sources close to the faction revealed that there is clear discord among key leaders in Palanivel’s faction as to the next course of political action to be taken.
Some are of the view they should wait for the outcome of their court case against MIC and RoS (Registrar of Societies) before embarking on any political moves next. In this regard several key leaders kept away from the protests against the EGM as they believed it will further create animosity between the two camps and further erode BN leadership’s confidence in their faction.
The only key leaders who appeared in the protests are Ramalingam and Ramanan (pic) while many others were conspicuously missing.
“First day, you go and protest in an ugly and unruly manner at the doorsteps of a BN component party’s (MIC) EGM. The next day you announce you are going to campaign for BN in the by-elections. You think the BN leadership is going to be impressed? Do you think that the MIC branches and other BN component parties are going to welcome you in Sungei Besar and Kuala Kangsar?” asked one key leader from Palanivel’s faction, not willing to disclose his name.
Again, Sothinathan’s absence in yesterday’s press conference by Palanivel has also created further speculations that all is not well in the camp. A source close to Sothinathan said : “Sothi is of the view we should work closely with BN leadership to return to MIC and thereby must show BN that we too have support in the Indian community by garnering some vote-bank in the forthcoming by-elections. Taking an antagonistic stand against MIC by holding protests will only drift us further away from the goodwill of BN’s leadership”.
Tan Sri S.Balakrishnan, another key leader who was active in Palanivel’s faction was also not seen during protests at the MIC EGM and the press conference called by Palanivel.
Another reason which is causing change of mind-set in Palanivel’s faction is the continued assertion by MIC President Datuk Seri Dr S.Subramaniam, that those outside are always welcome to rejoin the party. “We did not keep them outside. We wanted them to come in. But it is they who chose to remain outside. They can always come back to the party through the proper channels – not this way” Dr Subramaniam told the 1,350 odd delegates gathered for the EGM on Sunday, amidst shouts of protests by Palanivel’s faction outside the hall.
Positive gestures from MIC leadership
Such continued positive gestures from the current leadership of MIC, have changed the mindset of many in Palanivel’s faction. Some feel it might be too late if they choose to go back to the party after the conclusion of the pending court case.
The pending legal suit in High Court Kuala Lumpur on issues related to MIC leadership and RoS decisions may not be concluded soon as appeals and cross-appeals are expected.
With only two years left for GE-14, the unity within Palanivel’s faction is expected to wane further as there is no clarity in their directions. There is also no clear leadership hierarchy in the faction.
The prevailing frustrations and discord among the key leaders in Palanivel’s faction may become more apparent in the coming days – with some, harbouring the hopes of becoming candidates in GE-14 – opting to rejoin MIC again!