By Baradan Kuppusamy
HULU SELANGOR, April 15 – The MIC and Barisan Nasional (BN) are taking steps to close ranks after the BN dropped MIC deputy president Datuk G. Palanivel in favour of newcomer P. Kamalanathan as the BN candidate for the Hulu Selangor by-election.
The move has made many in the MIC, especially members in the party’s Hulu Selangor division which Palanivel has headed for 20 years, unhappy.
They have vowed to boycott the polls because their man has been dropped.
In naming Kamalanathan today as the BN candidate before about 2,000 supporters, mostly Umno members, Deputy Prime Minister and BN election director Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the move was in the best interest of the MIC, voters in the constituency and the BN.
Only a handful of MCA, MIC and IPF members were present. Noticeably missing was Palanivel.
Muhyiddin explained that it was a BN decision and not that of one man, apparently referring to MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu who had all along insisted that Palanivel was the MIC’s sole candidate for the by-election.
Muhyiddin urged Palanivel to help BN win the by-election against Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, the PKR candidate.
Palanivel told The Malaysian Insider later that he will campaign for the BN.
“Yes I will campaign for him (Kamalanathan) and try to convince Indian voters to back the BN candidate,” Palanivel said.
Samy Vellu made light of the change in candidate, saying it was normal in politics and it was time to close ranks and fight as one team.
Kamalanathan gave a short but stirring speech in fluent Bahasa Malaysia which impressed the Umno members present.
“He speaks better Malay than Zaid,” one Umno member said, clapping wildly.
Kamalanathan made a plea to the crowd: “Please, I am novice. Help me win this seat for Barisan and for Prime Minister Najib’s One Malaysia.”
Naming the BN candidate got off on a positive note but the hard part is convincing the 64,000 voters of Hulu Selangor.