AS the MIC seems stuck in a quagmire that it may find difficult to escape from, the rifts in the party appear to be getting wider as the days go by.
With the clock ticking towards the deadline for re-elections set by the Registrar of Societies (RoS), party president Datuk Seri G Palanivel seems ever more isolated as hardly any leaders, at least publicly, have come to his defence.
Reeling from what seems to be coordinated attacks from various fronts, the situation now looks like as if Palanivel is against everyone else within the party and also from outside the party.
One of his most outspoken critics, former Youth Chief Datuk T Mohan, had led the group that pressed the RoS to investigate the irregularities in the 2013 party polls, resulting in re-elections being ordered after more than a year.
Many within the MIC believe that for the RoS to make a decision against the current leadership, it must have the tacit approval of the prime minister as the party is one of the cornerstones of the Barisan Nasional coalition.
Armed with this belief, some now feel that Palanivel has fallen out of favour with the PM and change is now imminent.
“It’s just a matter of time! But never underestimate a wounded tiger,” warned a senior MIC leader.
“Palanivel is a master politician and some even say he is much more skilful than [Datuk Seri] Samy Vellu in getting rid of his opponents,” he said.
The veteran leader said Palanivel is capable of pulling the rug from beneath everyone else and may just survive this political imbroglio and emerge even stronger.
This is exactly what is believed to have happened to former party secretary-general A Prakash Rao. A strong ally of Palanivel, it is believed that he was removed from his post barely an hour after meeting the president to discuss party matters.
It is said that he learned of his sacking only from online media reports.
However, many lambasted the sacking of Prakash, saying Palanivel himself did not know about it and that it was engineered by his wife Datin Seri R Kanagam.
Palanivel denied this, saying his family was not involved in running the party and labelled it as a “below the belt” blow.
Another front opened up when his deputy Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam claimed he was unaware of some developments in the party involving the RoS.
He was taken aback by Palanivel’s revelation that he had already met with the RoS director-general (DG) despite publicly saying that they would be meeting him together.
Vice-president Datuk M Saravanan then revealed that Palanivel met the DG with a lawyer and also Petaling Jaya Selatan MIC division chief Senator Datuk V Subramaniam on Dec 24.
Palanivel also handed a letter to the RoS, raising some concerns about the lack of collective decision-making relating to party affairs.
This infuriated many, who felt that even the deputy president was left out of such an important meeting, Palanivel must be up to something.
Subramaniam said he had no indication of the contents of the letter and was also not aware that the Ros replied on Dec 31 to the issues raised in the letter.
“I am also not aware that the MIC responded to that letter on Jan 2, requesting for an extension of time,” he said.
Subramaniam said he had urged Palanivel to speed up the formation of a special committee to resolve the issue but had failed to meet him despite many requests.
“I have been bombarded with many questions from members. Frankly, I don’t have the answers to these and many other questions directed at me. Only the president knows the answers,” he said.
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on January 13, 2015.