KUALA KUBU BARU: Barisan Nasional's decision to field P Kamalanathan for the Hulu Selangor by-election has enraged the supporters of MIC deputy president G Palanivel and local leader V Mugilan.
According to sources, both camps are contemplating casting protest votes in order to teach BN and Umno leaders a lesson.
“How can they embarrass Palanivel in this manner?” exclaimed a local MIC member, who declined to be named.
“He is the deputy president of MIC and a four-term MP in Hulu Selangor. They should not have done this to him. Mark my words, there will be protest votes,” he told FMT.
The MIC member pointed out that Palanivel has worked hard for MIC and BN for many years, and he should not have been treated in this manner.
“You cannot simply use and throw leaders like this, he won the seat four times for BN and nobody complained then. Suddenly, they talk about change and a new face,” he said.
Hitting out at the Umno top brass, the MIC member said: “Forget about Indian and Chinese votes, Let's see if they (Umno) can deliver the Malay votes.”
On the same note, a supporter of Mugilan also expressed outrage that the Hulu Selangor MIC Youth chief was sidelined despite having the backing of Umno leaders in the constituency.
“Former menteri besar (Dr Mohd) Khir Toyo and (Selangor Umno deputy chief) Noh Omar also wanted Mugilan and he (Mugilan) was made to believe that he will be the candidate.
“He stuck out his neck, but in the end, they slit his throat,” he said.
Meanwhile, a source close to Palanivel told FMT that the MIC deputy president has accepted the decision, and will campaign in the by-election.
“Whatever said and done, he is a MIC man and he will deliver the votes to BN,” he said.
On the speculation that he will be offered a senatorship and eventually be made a deputy minister, the source said Palanivel will “think carefully” about this.
'Give Palanivel senatorship and we'll back Kamalanathan'
In a related development, Hulu Selangor MIC information chief Raily Muniandy said the division will only back Kamalanathan if Palanivel is offered a senator post.
He also conceded that the last-minute change in candidate will have an impact in terms of votes for the ruling coalition.
“We in Hulu Selangor were hoping that it will be Palanivel. He was the MP here for four terms and is a well-known figure in this area.
“The decision not to field him will definitely see a decrease in votes for BN,” he told FMT.
“We wanted Palanivel, but we are forced to accept the BN leadership's decision. We are prepared to support Kamalanathan but the government needs to give a senator post to Palanivel," he added.
On his earlier threat to close down MIC branches in Hulu Selangor if Palanivel is not named as the candidate, Raily claimed that he was misquoted by the media.
MIC had nominated Palanivel for the parliamentary seat, but the BN leadership had rejected this based on opposition from Umno, which lobbied for Mugilan.
However, MIC threatened to take disciplinary action against Mugilan for allegedly using backdoor tactics to be named as the candidate.
Following an intense last-minute discussion between Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and MIC president S Samy Vellu, both parties agreed on Kamalanathan.
In a related development, local non-governmental organisation Persokemas said the controversy surrounding the candidate showed that it is Umno, and not MIC, which calls the shots.
"We, the people of Hulu Selangor are not stupid. What we want from BN and MIC is a capable candidate not a substitute," he told FMT.
“What does Samy Vellu think? He can change the candidate as he pleases, and we are expected to vote for him,” he said.