Kuala Lumpur – The dateline Datuk S.Sothinathan set for himself to conclude a peace deal with MIC President Datuk Seri Dr S.Subramaniam, for his faction to return to MIC will be expiring in two days – on 30th September 2016 to be precise. However questions and doubts still looms whether Sothinathan would be able to convince the whole faction to join back MIC as sources pointed out of serious differences of opinion within key leaders of so called “Palanivel faction”.
A source close to the faction said, Sothinathan summoned key leaders of his faction today afternoon for a briefing but the meeting ended without any conclusion in sight. As it goes, the source pointed out that the faction is heading for a split between Sothinathan’s supporters and others.
The crux of the matter seems to be unhappiness among key leaders of the faction that they were not briefed by Sothinathan about proposals of the settlement and the outcome of his meetings with MIC President Dr S.Subramaniam and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Another bone of contention is the lack of any announcement or commitment on the part of MIC leadership or Barisan Nasional as to the terms of settlement for the key leaders of Palanivel faction to consider and debate upon.
“Sothinathan’s own fault”
“I would say it is Sothinathan who is responsible for the current uncertainty as to why we are unable to arrive at a decision. Right from day one he wanted to conduct the negotiations all by himself and did not wanted to take even one leader with him for the discussions with Dr Subra. We were not happy about this but reluctantly agreed and gave our mandate. We also clearly spelt our terms and proposals. But now he comes back to us asking us to return to MIC without any firm commitment from the parties concerned. We do not know on what basis we are going to return to MIC” said one of the leaders of Palanivel’s faction who attended the meeting today.
“It looks like the negotiations are tailor-made for Sothinathan himself and the outcome may benefit him and one or two others but not the majority of us. It looks like at the end of the day Sothinathan will emerge as the hero at our expense. So we want something firm in writing or official statements before we can agree to return. The prevailing mood among all of us is to return to the party but we want to know on what terms we are being taken back. Right now none of us know what is happening and it is only Sothinathan’s words which we have to take”, the key leader further said.
Another source said that the key leaders of Palanivel faction are concerned about withdrawal of legal suits against RoS affecting MIC’s leadership and re-elections which are said to be part of the deal for the faction’s leaders to return to the party. They are not agreeable to withdraw the cases without some form of firm commitment.
MIC sources familiar with the on-going negotiations between the parties concerned said, as far as the MIC President is concerned he is clear that all the former members and leaders should join back the party without attaching too many conditions as the merger should be treated as a family matter. That is why he has agreed to take back everyone and has also given his commitment to the Prime Minister which paved the way for the recent meeting between Najib and Sothinathan.
The MIC source further said that Dr Subra himself has to make lot of “political sacrifices” in admitting Palanivel’s faction leaders. “Some of Subra’s own supporters, who stood by him during the leadership struggle with Palanivel, are questioning the rationale in taking back the group which has ridiculed his leadership all these years. Now, it looks like some of the nominated CWC members who are hard-core supporters of Subra, have to vacate their positions to accommodate some of Palanivel faction’s leaders. We must appreciate that Subra is doing all these for unity to prevail within the party and community”, the MIC source noted.
“How many would follow Sothinathan?”
The issue now is, how many branch leaders would follow Sothinathan, in the event he decides to join back MIC. It is believed that he would be able to bring with him a substantial number of branch leaders should he decides to join hands with Subra but at the same time it should not be forgotten that many of these branch leaders are still controlled by key leaders of Palanivel’s faction.
In the last two days some Tamil media reports and social media have begun speculations that there are rifts between some leaders of Palanivel’s faction. The reports claimed that Sothinathan’s negotiations with Subra are self-centred and aimed at personally benefiting Sothinathan himself and not the whole faction. The reports also claimed that the faction’s leaders are solidly behind K.Ramalingam, the former chairman of MIC Batu Division who acts as the Secretary General for Palanivel’s faction.
Sources close to Sothinathan said he is now at the cross-roads, with immense pressure to make a crucial decision in his political career, whether to join back MIC with his supporters with the blessings of party President Dr Subramaniam and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak or to abandon his negotiation efforts and remain with the Palanivel’s faction.