MIC is abuzz with talk that the party boss is trying to cut a deal with the former deputy president’s son.
PETALING JAYA: MIC president G Palanivel’s moves to consolidate his political position are becoming more noticeable by the day and these are like grist to the rumour mill.
The latest talk is that he is trying to cut a deal with a son of former deputy president S Subramaniam, who retains a sizeable block of support in the party despite his incapacitation by ill health.
According to party insiders, Palanivel has promised the young man, S Sunther, that he would recommend him for candidacy for the Cameron Highlands parliamentary seat , leadership of MIC Youth and a deputy minister’s position in exchange for the allegiance of his father’s supporters.
The 32-year-old Sunther is currently a deputy of MIC Seputeh’s youth chief.
The sources noted that Palanivel was in the midst of discussing a deal with Subramaniam himself when the latter was struck down by brain aneurysm last November. They said the current manoeuvre would be his follow up to those discussions.
Sunther told FMT that he too had heard the latest rumour, but denied that it had any basis in fact.
He said the last time he met Palanivel was when the party president visited his father in hospital. “He has met the family a couple of times, but at no time in the past month did I meet him outside to talk about anything.”
Asked if he would consider standing for election in a parliamentary constituency, Sunther said: “I’m considering, but I’ve not made a decision. It depends a lot on many things—my father’s health, the timing of the election, the financial status of the family.”
He also said several of his father’s supporters had been urging him to take up bigger political challenges.
Removing a threat
Sources have told FMT that Palanivel began his talks with Subramaniam as soon as he took over the MIC presidency from S Samy Vellu slightly more than a year ago. The idea, they said, was to neutralise a threat to his position from Subramaniam’s camp.
“Right after he took over, Palanivel talked with Subramaniam about an MP seat, a Tan Sri title and a special GLC position,” a source said. “If he had pulled it off, he would have effectively eradicated the threat from Subra’s supporters, who account for about 40% of the MIC membership. But right before an arrangement was made to see the PM, Subra was admitted to hospital.
“So Palanivel’s next move was to talk to Sunther.”
The source said Palanivel had planned his strategy well. “This is a plan well thought out. To the outside, it looks as if he is magnanimous in passing on the deal to the son, but the ulterior motive is to bring aboard and control the block of Subramaniam supporters.”
FMT could not reach Palanivel for his comments, but one of his supporters said he doubted if there was a deal with Sunther. “We are not aware of such a thing, and I think it is merely a rumour. If they are going to just hand over a seat to Subra’s son, that’s fine, but how will the public, or Subra’s supporters, take it?”
The supporter lamented the condition of Subramaniam health. “It is sad. It happened at the wrong time. He was supposed to work with the president to revive the party. Now the supporters are in a dilemma. Who can take over? No one else has the clout to lead his group other than Subra himself.”
MIC Central Working Committee member K P Samy, who is known to be a supporter of Subramaniam, said: “If it is true that the president himself has decided on Subra’s son, then we would of course take it as a good sign and support that.”