KUALA LUMPUR: It was surprising to see Federal Territory MIC deputy chairman Datuk V.K.K. Teagarajan occupying centre stage at the FT MIC convention at Putra World Trade Centre on Thursday.
He had earlier defied the wishes of party president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu not to file his nomination paper to contest for a vice-presidents post.
He was seated on the right of Acting Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who was guest-of-honour at the function, with Samy Vellu sitting on the left.
The audience started talking when Teagarajan was given the honour of garlanding the party president in front of over 5,000 party members who thronged PWTC Hall for the event.
One delegate commented that it would be a sure victory for Teagarajan if the photograph was played up in the Tamil newspapers.
It was a shock for the members when, a few hours later, Teagarajan went to the rostrum and announced he was withdrawing from the vice-presidents contest, purportedly to preserve unity in the party.
His pullout paved the way for the incumbent vice-presidents parliamentary secretary of the National Unity and Community Development Ministry Datuk S. Veerasingam, Deputy Rural Development Minister Datuk G. Palanivel and Subang MP Tan Sri K.S. Nijhar to be returned unopposed for a three-year term.
Samy Vellu had openly endorsed his deputy Datuk S. Subramaniam as well as the three incumbent vice-presidents and had requested for them to be returned unopposed.
We worked as a team for the past three years and I want the delegates to retain them to ensure continuity in the party, he had reportedly said.
Teagarajan then hugged Samy Vellu, a move which was applauded by many delegates.
One party leader, who had been campaigning for Teagarajan, wept and walked out in disgust after the announcement.
Teagarajan seemed to have used this to bargain for a post in the party, another leader said.
He (Teagarajan) had been in politics for so long but only now is he is showing his concern for party unity.
He would have considered everything before deciding to contest. It seems like he had been bargaining for his political survival, the leader said.
Teagarajan, who has been in the partys Central Working Committee for three terms, had indicated that he wanted to move up to contribute to the economic development of the Indian community.
He (Teagarajan) had been in the CWC for 12 years and has been president of the Indian chamber of commerce for 20 years. He had wanted to do something which he had failed do before, the disappointed leader said.
Teagarajans decision robbed the party elections of some thrill and the focus now will be on the contest among 37 leaders for the 23 seats in the CWC, held on May 10.
All the incumbent CWC members, except Teagarajan, had submitted nominations to retain their position.
The campaigning is expected to kick off now that Samy Vellu had introduced all the contestants at a special delegates meeting in Klang yesterday.
This is a change from previous party elections where only the officially-endorsed candidates were given the chance to meet the delegates while the non-official candidates campaigned on the outside.
CWC aspirant James Selvaraj said the move to give access to all the contestants ensured that they each had a fair chance of winning.
This would provide an opportunity to put forward their reasons for contesting for the CWC seats, he said.
It is learnt that a list of 23 members, believed to have been endorsed by Samy Vellu, is being distributed to the delegates but there is a possibility that one or two of them might fall on the wayside.
Meanwhile, Samy Vellu had already warned the contestants that anyone found to be involved in money politics would be dealt with seriously.
There had been reports of candidates giving out money to delegates even in toilets. All complaints would be investigated thoroughly and action will be taken, he said.
He said the contestants would be allowed to put up advertisements in the newspapers to highlight their achievements to woo the delegates.
I feel that this is one way for the contestants to reach the delegates and also to inform party members of their work for the community, he said.