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MIC Elections 2009: Nammavar (our people) caste factor in MIC elections

Contributed by Anonymous on Sunday, August 16 @ 02:08:19 CDT

The Traveler, Sunday, August 16, 2009

Once again caste is showing its ugly face in the MIC elections. The Pallar and Parayar, so called low caste people,  in MIC have set up a joint group in the party called ‘Nammavar’ (literally means ‘our people’) to be a force in the coming MIC elections, according to reliable sources.


Nammavar chief Dato Thangarajoo Vyran

The group Nammavar is spearheaded by Dato Vyran, a contractor of Indah Water consortium.

Out of the 1500 delegates who will decide the fate of the new line of leaders, 400 of them are estimated to be low caste. With a strong financial backing, Nmmavar operating from Brickfields intends to be a deciding force in MIC elections to be held in September12.

Caste politics is not new in MIC.  Samy Vellu’s Thevar caste dominated MIC political scene since his ascension to power 30 years ago and caste has been always a criteria in selections for positions. Caste allegiance deemed to be strong when it comes for voting.

The two MIC deputy president contenders, S Subramaniam and Sothinathan, belong to Gounder caste. However, the Gounder association is fully behind S Subramaniam whose staunch supporters, OMS Thaigarajan and K P Samy, are controlling the association indirectly.

Palanivel, the in*****bent deputy president, belongs to Muthaliyar castes and other minorities like Nadar, Udayaar and Chettiyar are insignificant in number to be a force in the party.

Thus, any alliance of Nammavar with either Thevar or Goundar will certainly impact the outcome of the MIC elections.

‘Our People’ power rises to oust Samy Vellu By Baradan Kuppusamy
Samy Vellu faces yet another challenge from within his party. — Picture by Jack Ooi
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 — A new grassroots force has emerged that could potentially influence the outcome of the hotly contested MIC elections and, party insiders say, possibly defeat the “official line-up” and hasten the departure of longtime president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu. The movement is called Nammavar, or Our People, and refers to the lower rungs in the Hindu caste hierarchy who are the majority in the MIC but lack the political or economic clout wielded by the upper caste who dominate the party and the perks. Their battle cry is Matram or change. They want to send the current MIC leadership packing, abolish caste-based politics and open the party to all Malaysian Indians irrespective of religion, ethnicity or caste origins. The way they hope to achieve the desired change is to influence and persuade the majority of the 1,500 delegates to the MIC elections to vote against the official line-up fielded by Samy Vellu. Instead they want the delegates to vote for a new “Matram line up” they are choosing, led by former MIC Deputy President Datuk S. Subramaniam. Specifically, the Nammavar movement is targeting an estimated 480 “Our People” delegates said to be of lower caste origins among the 1,500 delegates. “We can influence them and with their support added to support from Subramaniam’s gounder caste followers and together with others sympathetic to change, we are confident we can defeat Samy Vellu’s lineup,” said one of the founder members of the movement. “They are playing caste politics to divide and rule but we are only rallying our people to defeat them and create a new and inclusive MIC for all Malaysian Indians,” he said. Nammavar leaders are openly campaigning across the country to rally lower caste “Our People” delegates to their cause. Nammavar was founded in April last year, at a gathering of over a dozen successful businessmen, all from the lower caste group, at the Le Meridien Hotel here. Some are MIC members but others are not. It was learned that the gathering was chaired by Datuk Vyran T. Raj, 49, an “Our People” businessman who made his millions in waste management. The group includes other millionaire businessmen and is sometimes referred to as the S-Class Group because most of the members drive brand new S Class Mercedes-Benz cars. Vyran did not deny Nammavar when contacted by The Malaysian Insider. “All I can say is that the time for change has arrived. The time is now and we, the better off individuals among our people, are the catalyst for that change,” he said. He declined further comments saying the struggle for the emancipation of the “oppressed and suppressed” class in the MIC and the Indian community is the priority. Other Nammavar leaders who declined to be named said the movement is confident of winning over at least 80 per cent of the 480 “Our People” delegates they have targeted. “We are actively campaigning among the ‘Our People’ group and the response is very encouraging,” said one leader. “We want Samy Vellu to depart the scene immediately after the MIC election on Sept 12. He should not stay one day longer.” Samy Vellu has indicated he might retire about a year or two after the elections because he needs to “teach” the newly elected leaders how to manage the party. In July, Nammavar leaders separately met two of the candidates in the deputy president’s race — Subramaniam and Datuk S. Sothinathan — to discuss and assess what these two upper caste leaders can offer to their people. “Sothinathan’s attitude and answers to our questions were not encouraging,” a Nammavar leader who attended the meeting said. “Subramaniam was more forthright and promised to abolish caste politics and open the MIC doors to all Indians.” “That’s why we are supporting Subramaniam in the MIC elections,” the leader told The Malaysian Insider. Palanivel did not meet the Nammavar leaders but sent a representative to the meeting, a move that did not go down well with the Nammavar leaders. “We see both Sothinathan and Palanivel as Yes-men to Samy Vellu… if they win then Samy Vellu would continue in power and change would be impossible,” he said. The Nammavar movement has a central leadership and at the state level, a state chairman with a committee assisting him. All are of lower caste origins but successful and have thrown their financial powers behind Subramaniam’s campaign. “We are backing him because we see the best chance for change through him,” a Nammavar leader from Selangor said. “After him, we hope to see one of our own as MIC president.” Samy Vellu, a party insider said, is aware of the Nammavar movement and has moved to neutralise their appeal by fielding P. Wilson, the Ampang MIC leader of similar origins to the Nammavar, to counter them. Wilson is campaigning among “Our People” in the MIC arguing that staying with Samy Vellu — whose strengths and weakness are known — is better than backing Subramaniam, who may promise the heaven but might not deliver. “He will only help his Gounder caste people,” the Wilson counter campaign line goes. “We would be left out… at least Samy Vellu has helped our people... I am an example!”



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