The fracas involving MIC Youth members and PKR leaders last week has turned into a proxy war within the BN party.
The recent brawl in Putrajaya between PKR members and MIC Youth members over the MyKad issue has caused injuries not only to some people but also to unity in MIC among its rank and file.
The incident was given wide publicity in the Tamil media, with close-up shots of injured faces of PKR members. As soon as the incident was reported, MIC circles were abuzz with talks as to why should MIC Youth go there and cause trouble to protesting PKR members.
Some even expressed shock that such a brawl could take place in front of the Prime Minister’ Office and that too in the presence of members of the police force.
Comparisons were also made with the speedy action taken by the police over the Bersih 3.0 protesters: none of the people involved in Putrajaya brawl has been arrested so far despite some people having been injured seriously and several police reports lodged.
Even the photos of those involved in the brawl had been widely published in newspapers and Internet.
Some leaders like MIC central working committee (CWC) member Kumar Amman came out with a strong statement that the incident had tarnished the image of MIC. Some other branch leaders also echoed similar sentiments.
Pressured to show that the MIC leadership does not condone the incident and to reduce the continued public outcry over the incident, MIC’s disciplinary committee chairman KS Nijhar quickly announced that a committee would investigate the matter and take appropriate action.
Such a statement was seen as timely to show MIC as a responsible and fair-minded party. However, the inner political forces within MIC, especially those aligned to MIC Youth leader T Mohan, saw the move by Nijhar as an affront to the pride of MIC and a calculated political move to discredit Mohan in the eyes of MIC members and the public.
In defence of Mohan and his boys
Several leaders came out against Nijhar’s statement and in defence of Mohan and his Youth members. Among them were state chairman for Negeri Sembilan T Rajagobalu, Selangor state information chief Siva Subramaniam and former MIC Youth leader SA Vigneswaran.
However, the surprise entry was S Vell Paari, a CWC member and son of former president S Samy Vellu, who said in a statement that Nijhar had gone overboard and that a report should have been requested from Mohan before announcing disciplinary proceedings.
Tamil Nesan, a Tamil daily controlled by Vell Paari, also ran detailed statements issued by MIC leaders against Nijhar.
Such open and bold statements against Nijhar is surprising as Nijhar is known to be working closely with party president G Palanivel and everyone knew that Nijhar would not have issued such an important statement without consulting the leadership of the party.
Such confrontations among MIC leaders through press statements reflect the ongoing political undercurrent in MIC politics, which is being kept under wraps just because the general election is around the corner.
In recent times, the aggressive leadership style of Mohan is seen as conflicting with that of Palanivel, who prefers more subtle and compromising approach.
It can also be seen that Palanivel carefully avoids direct confrontation with opposition leaders and does not wish to engage in press war with the opposition.
“Mohan is seen as one of Samy Vellu’s protégées. He is also close to Vell Paari and is closely aligned to MIC deputy president Dr S Subramaniam. The undercurrent in MIC now is that Dr Subramaniam will mount a challenge for the presidency against Palanivel next year with the help of Samy Vellu,” an MIC source pointed out.
“MIC members and leaders are tight-lipped on this matter because of the coming 13th general election. Once the national polls is over, the political battles are expected to start.
“In the meantime, some see Nijhar’s announcement against Mohan and the Youth wing as the beginning of that battle and hence, the sudden ‘uprising’ to defend Mohan who is expected to play a key role in favour of Dr Subramaniam in the event there is a challenge for presidency,” added the source.
In view of the disunity among leaders of MIC caused by the Putrajaya incident, it will be interesting to see whether the MIC disciplinary committee under Nijhar will continue with its investigations or will drop it to avoid further conflicts and confrontations.
RJ Rajah is a veteran MIC leader who now likes observing the fun from the sidelines.