In a shocking development, MIC presidential aspirant M Muthupalaniappan has beaten the odds to garner the required nominations to take on S Samy Vellu for the top post.
Contacted by Malaysiakini this evening, the former MIC vice-president confirmed that he has bagged the nominations from the branch chairpersons.
"I am proud to announce that as of today, I have secured 51 nominations to enable me to qualify for the contest.
"In addition, I have received many more invitations by branch leaders all over the country to obtain their nominations," he said.
The minimum number of nominations required to run for the MIC party president post is 50.
As each nomination is proposed by one branch leader and seconded by five others, this translates to support from over 300 branch leaders for Muthupalaniappan.
"If the elections are held in a fair and just manner, my chances of winning are very, very good," said the Seremban-based lawyer.
MIC's all-powerful Central Executive Committee (CEC) has fixed March 22 for nominations and April 12 for the presidential elections.
The last time Samy Vellu, who has held the presidency for more than three decades, was challenged was in 1989 by his then deputy S Subramaniam.
Aims to reform the party
Meanwhile, Muthupalaniappan, said if elected, he will strive to revitalise and re-strengthen the party.
"I will reopen all branches that have been closed in the past, and ensure that all of them will function well to serve their respective communities.
"I will also strive to improve transparency within the party and encourage all branch leaders to carry out their duties without fear or fervour," he added.
Muthupalaniappan also said he will limit the duration for the position of party president to two terms or six years to allow young leaders in the party a chance to bring reforms.
He also commented that many of the grassroots leaders in the party had expressed their hope for change and saw him as that potential agent for change.
"There are many Indian intellectuals and successful Indian businessmen in this country. I hope to reach out to them and invite them into our party so that they may be given an opportunity to help their poor brethren," he said.
Furthermore, the veteran politician also hopes to unite all Indian Malaysians under the flag of MIC so that "we may increase our bargaining power within the government."
He also attributed MIC's disastrous performance in the last elections to fielding the wrong candidates.
He believes that the party will be able to redeem itself by fielding more qualified candidates in the next general elections.