KUALA LUMPUR, 27 May 2009: MIC deputy president Datuk G Palanivel has received the backing of Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu to defend his post at the party polls in September, and eventually succeed the latter to the MIC presidency.
A senior state MIC leader revealed that the former Women, Family and Community Development deputy minister had received the blessings of Samy Vellu, who is expected to throw his support for the incumbent deputy president at the MIC election later this year.
The president, he said, endorsed Palanivel for deputy president last week at a meeting with several senior MIC state leaders and had informed of his decision to vice-president Datuk S Sothinathan and Human Resources Minister and MIC secretary-general Datuk Dr S Subramaniam.
Sothinathan was earlier widely tipped to receive Samy Vellu’s backing for the party number two post, following the MIC president’s “stormy” relationship with 58-year-old Palanivel over the last year.
However, it is learnt that the president’s decision favouring Palanivel was expected, taking into account the age and experience of the journalist-turned-politician in leading the party.
“The president also felt that Palanivel, had the humanity, close contact with the grassroots and various other qualities to take helm of the party after he retires,” said the leader who did not want to be named. Palanivel could not be contacted for comment.
Samy Vellu after winning the presidential election uncontested in March, this year, had declared that this would be his last term and whoever picked as deputy president at the party election in September would helm the 630,000-member party after his retirement from active politics.
However, many had expected Samy Vellu’s decision to favour Palanivel especially with the “close relations” the two leaders are enjoying presently.
“Husband and wife” relationship
Prior to the presidential election, Samy Vellu told a closed-door gathering of party division leaders from Selangor at a hotel, here, that his relationship with Palanivel, fondly known as “GP” in the party circles, was akin to the relationship of a husband and wife.
“In a husband-wife relationship there are bound to be fights and disagreements but this does not mean that we have to divorce. That would not make a happy marriage. My relationship with Palanivel is the same. We are like a husband and wife team,” Samy Vellu was said to have told the division leaders.
At the last party election in 2006, Palanivel beat Datuk S Subramaniam, who had served as party number two since 1981, by a 438-vote majority.
Palanivel garnered 933 votes against Subramaniam’s 495 votes.
Palanivel, who is also Selangor MIC Chief, became a vice-president in 1994 and had been serving in the post for four consecutive terms.
He joined the largest Indian-based political party in the country at 19 and was made the Petaling division secretary in 1972 and gradually rose through the ranks.
He contested and won the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat on a Barisan Nasional (BN) ticket in the 1990 general election and was the Member of Parliament for the constituency till the last general election in March 2008, where he lost the seat with a mere 150-odd vote majority.
The MIC deputy president’s race is expected to be a repeat of the 2006 election pitting Palanivel with Subramaniam, with at least one other “outsider” joining the fray.
Sothinathan to announce soon
Sothinathan, meanwhile when contacted by Bernama, said although he had decided on the position to contest, he would announce his decision soon.
“Yes, I have decided on the post but I have not set a date for the announcement,” he said when contacted.
Sources reveal Sothinathan had been asked by Samy Vellu to defend his vice-president post while Subramaniam has been told to go for one of the three vice-president seats up for grabs.
Samy Vellu’s team for vice-president is expected to consist of Sothinathan, if he decides to defend the post, Subramaniam and Datuk S Veerasingham.
Other leaders like MIC information chief Datuk M Saravanan, who is Federal Territories deputy minister, and Datuk SK Devamany, who is now MIC treasurer are expected to retain their positions under the president’s line-up.
When contacted, Saravanan said he would discuss his political fate in the party with Samy Vellu and make an announcement in due course.
Another aspiring politician wanting to break-into the top leadership is Samy Vellu’s son Vel Paari. The 47-year-old Vel Paari is speculated to contest the vice-presidency.
“But there are chances that he (Vel Paari) would be asked by his father to hold his horses by asking him to contest for a central working committee (CWC). This would given Paari the exposure needed for his future political career,” said a party insider. — Bernama