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PUBLISHED: Dec 9, 2014 11:18pm

Will caste influence casting of votes at MIC re-election?


G. Surach

A source has said that while the main agenda is to topple MIC president Datuk Seri G Palanivel over his poor leadership of the party, caste politics is expected to play a certain role in the upcoming re-elections.

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KLANG, Dec 9, 2014:

Caste-based politics is expected to rear its ugly head once again in the upcoming MIC re-elections, according to sources.

A Central Working Committee member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the re-elections will pit “Team Palanivel” against “Team Samy Vellu”, in reference to both current and former party president Datuk Seri G.Palanivel and Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.

“Ever since Samy Vellu took helm of MIC, the party then was controlled by the supposedly ‘Thevar’ caste of which Samy Vellu comes from.

“Throughout the years, he had pitted himself against the late Tan Sri M.G. Pandithan and former deputy president Tan Sri S.S Subramaniam, mainly over personality differences as well as spurred by caste, and he eventually topped.”

The Thevar caste is known as the “warrior” caste under the Hindu caste system.

The source said that while the main agenda was to topple Palanivel over his poor leadership of the party, caste politics was expected to play a certain role in the upcoming party re-elections.

This is because Palanivel is believed to be from the supposedly “Gounder” caste, the same caste as S.S Subramaniam, whom Samy Vellu had pitted against for many years.

The “Gounder” caste is known as the “trader” caste under the same system.

However, since Samy Vellu’s stepping down, it is learnt that “Team Samy Vellu” currently consists of Samy Vellu’s son and party strategic director Datuk Seri S. Vell Paari, former MIC Youth chiefs Datuk T. Mohan and Senator Datuk S.A. Vigneswaran, among others.

In October, the trio had led a huge protest in Putrajaya, organised by party members, to express their unhappiness with the Registrar of Societies (RoS) for delaying its findings on the party elections in Port Dickson last year.

They had also called for a re-election.

“Team Palanivel” meanwhile consists of Palanivel, party vice-president Datuk S. Sothinathan and Information chief L. Sivasubramaniam, among its prominent members.

While the rest, the source said, were aligned to either team depending on their personal agenda and caste.

Commenting further on the issue, another source from the party’s Youth wing said while MIC Youth and MIC Wanita these days tried to disassociate themselves with the caste-based politics in order to make MIC more progressive, party veterans and old guns continue to manipulate the caste factor to determine their votes.

Describing the caste factor as an “open secret”, the source claimed that the unwanted factor was beginning to influence the minds of the Youth members as well.

“While Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had openly told MIC delegates to disassociate themselves from caste-based politics several years ago, it remains an old habit that party members find hard to discard.”

On Saturday, the country’s oldest Indian-based party was instructed by the RoS to hold fresh elections within 90 days for the three vice-presidents post and 23 Central Working Committee (CWC) member posts due to irregularities in the previous party elections.

According to RoS, fresh elections will also have to be held within 60 days for eight divisions and within 30 days for two branches.

The RoS also ordered re-election to be held within 30 days for several party positions.



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