By Suganthi Suparmaniam
He may be known as the "RM2 million man", "road king" or "contractor
Bala", but Datuk S. Balakrishnan does not want to be known as the man
who brought caste politics into the MIC.
The Johor MIC treasurer, who is going for one of the three
vice-presidential slots, said he had never advocated divisions among
members along social, economic or caste lines.
He said he had not initiated the "Nammavar" slogan for the
Sept 12 party polls where members of certain castes were pulling
together to win positions in the party.
"There are many friends
and supporters whom I had helped before who are behind me now. I have
helped and supported many people in my life and they are supporting me
Datuk S. Balakrishnan says the people need leaders who can
contribute and work.
"I cannot say no when they come and say that they are
supporting me. These are friends," he said when commenting on
allegations that he was involved in caste politics.
He also denied that his support base was solely due to his financial strength.
Balakrishnan said people liked him because of what he had done for them and "not about money".
"I don't know from where the RM2 million dollar tag for me came (coined
to allege that he used money to get things done in the party)."
He said it could have come from talk that three millionaires would be contesting in the vice-presidential race.
"I am not buying votes and never have. I have always only used my money to build temples and schools."
Balakrishnan is being pitted against three "official" candidates and three "outsiders".
The official candidates are Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam, who is party
secretary-general and Human Resources Minister, Deputy Federal
Territories Minister and party information chief Datuk M. Saravanan and
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department and Cameron
Highlands member of parliament Datuk S.K Devamany.
outsiders are former Selangor MIC youth chief P. Subramaniam, Federal
Territory MIC strongman Datuk V.K.K. Teagarajan and Negri Sembilan
leader, P. Mariayee.
Balakrishnan is confident of winning and not worried about going up against a minister and two deputy ministers.
"I don't see them as threats. I'm just concentrating on my
strength, my sakti (power). I will also not talk anything bad about the
other contestants, I don't know their style. But, I've worked hard all
my life and I am in the people's heart."
He said delegates were looking for a kind, compassionate and approachable leader "and I believe I have these traits".
"We need leaders who can contribute and work.
may not have the paper qualifications but I have experiences in life
that will help. I have about 500 people working for me on a monthly
payroll of more than RM1 million."
On the AIMST University
road contract awarded to him, Balakrishnan clarified that it was not
for RM90 million but RM27 million.
"I got it after going
through the proper channels where I had to make a bid. It was given to
me based on my track record and experience."