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MIC Elections 2009: MIC battles caste politics

Contributed by Anonymous on Monday, August 24 @ 20:00:02 CDT

MIC
kie D'Cruz
Monday, August 24th, 2009 The Malay Mail
THE MIC has been plunged into a fast developing crisis triggered by caste and money politics.
MIC leaders say caste issues are being harped on by party rank-and-file in a manner unseen for many years ahead of the hotly contested party polls on Sept 12.


They say segregation-based politics has already caused "enormous damage" to the party that is struggling hopelessly under the leadership of Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu. The rise of a new grassroots force, "Namavar" (our people), they fear, may further segregate its members if not properly addressed. The double peril of caste selection of candidates and money politics will result in the election of weak leaders who will not live up to party or community expectations, they agreed. "The MIC is at its lowest in terms of unity and strength," said a veteran party leader who said the damage in terms of segregation-based politics has been enormous. He said the problem has also given Samy Vellu an excuse to stay on as chief until 2012. Samy Vellu has stated that he will leave at the end of 2012 as he fears that caste factions have been formed and there is a possibility of the party splitting if he steps down this year. "Campaigning for the top posts at the party polls is centred on caste and money politics. Caste politics is despicable but everyone is involved," said a contestant for the vice-presidency. Caste is even brought into music, he noted, saying on nomination day last Saturday, certain upper caste MIC
members mocked the spirited beat, urumi, that reverberated through the MIC headquarters as being associated
with lower caste Hindus. He confirmed that the so called lowcaste people in and out of the MIC have set up a social grassroots group called Namavar to abolish caste politics and open the party to all Malaysian Indians irrespective of religion, ethnicity or caste origins. Namavar, whose rallying cry is Matram or change, is also seeking to topple Samy Vellu and his chosen lot
in next month's elections. So, Samy Vellu will be up against a Matram line up led by Datuk S. Subramaniam who is involved in a three-way tussle to reclaim the deputy presidency he lost in 2006. The lower rungs in the Hindu caste hierarchy 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. "More than 400 delegates are said to be of lower caste origins among the 1,500 delegates and if they stay together Samy Vellu's official line up will be dealt a killer blow," said a close aide of Subramaniam. Samy Vellu's Thevar clan has dominated the MIC political scene since his ascension to power 30 years ago. "Caste has been always a criteria in selection for positions but this time around it is stronger - than ever," said
the aide. He noted that Subramaniam and Datuk S. Sothinathan are from the Gounder caste while the other contestant
for the deputy presidency, in*****bent Datuk G. Palanivel, belongs to the Muthaliyar caste. However, the Gounder association is said to be behind Subramaniam whose staunch supporters, OMS Thaigarajan and K.P. Samy, are in control of the association. Prior to this, the biggest caste politics problem the party faced was when then party vice-president M.G. Pandithan rebelled against Samy Vellu's authority and left to form the caste-free Indian Progressive Front (IPF).
Segregation-based politics is difficult to contain while cases of money politics can be handled by the party's disciplinary committee. The party leadership is getting feedback from the ground before these complaints are referred to the party
disciplinary committee.********
'Namavar' out to woo low-caste MIC members
Monday, August 24th, 2009 07:33:00
WHEN the nation is trying to transcend the race barrier, MIC politics is moving backwards, harping on caste sentiments to woo delegates in the run up to the party deputy president, vice-president and CWC elections
on Sept 12. Although caste politics has always existed in MIC, it is now more than anytime in its boisterous past that  caste sentiment has been given such emphasis and vigour to win the hearts of the majority low-caste Tamils, who form the bulk of the members and delegates. This time around, a more refined, affectionate term, "Namavar", has been coined to woo the low-caste who make up some 400 of the 1,580 delegates for the deputy president's election, and form some 65 per cent of the total party membership said to number about 500,000. It was learnt that Namavar meetings are being mobilised by representatives of candidates vying for the deputy president and vice-president posts throughout the country with promises that the low-caste Tamils would be given more prominence in the party hierarchy if they vote for them. Since its formation, the upper caste Tamils in MIC, primarily the Devars or Thevars and the Gounders, have successfully maintained their hold on the party leadership with support from the low-caste Tamils who tried unsuccessfully to wrest control of the party under the late Tan Sri M.G. Pandithan who was kicked out by party
supremo Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, who himself is of the Devar caste. SUBRA GETS 'NAMAVAR' SUPPORT THE "Namavar" or "our people" movement was formed in April last year by a group of businessmen and several MIC members from the lower caste group at a leading hotel in Kuala Lumpur. Millionaire businessman Datuk Vyran T. Raj was said to have chaired the meeting that gave form to the movement. Although it was in existence, it never managed to make any headway. When contacted, Vyran admitted there was such a movement but did not claim exclusive rights as the founder. He said as much as he disliked playing the caste card there was no option other than taking this path for the sake of the party and Indians at large. He declined further comment saying the struggle for the emancipation of the “oppressed and suppressed” class
in the MIC and the Indian community is the priority. In July, Namavar leaders separately met two of the candidates in the deputy president’s race — Datuk S. Subramaniam and Datuk S. Sothinathan — to discuss and assess what these two upper caste leaders can offer "their people". A source who attended both meetings said the Namavar movement has indicated that it will support aniam as Sothinathan has not shown any positive indication to empower the majority class in the party. Subramaniam, he said, has promised to abolish caste politics and open the MIC to all Indians. “That’s why we are supporting Subramaniam in the MIC elections,” the leader told Malay Mail. Sensing an unexpected defeat of all the president's men, like what he did not foresee in the last general election when he lost his parliamentary constituency to a virtually unknown socialist party candidate, Samy Vellu has fielded several leaders of Namavar class to counter the uprising. Among them is P. Wilson, Selangor MIC information chief and Ampang division chairman. "I support Samy Vellu though he is from a different caste because I feel there is nobody in the party who has
done so much for the Indians in the country," Wilson told Malay Mail.

 
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