Sivarraajh and Mugilan were once university mates but are now battling each other to advance their political careers.
TWO former Universiti Malaya mates-turned-arch political rivals will battle for the hearts and minds of the 550 MIC Youth delegates on Nov 16.
MIC Youth secretary C. Sivarraajh, who announced his intention to go for the Youth chief post on Tuesday, and V. Mugilan, the incumbent deputy youth chief, studied together at Universiti Malaya in the 1990s.
Sivarraajh graduated in economics while Mugilan did Indian studies and international relations.
While Mugilan was deputy president of the Tami Language Society, Sivarraajh was deputy president of the Hindu Sangam and both graduated from social work to political work.
Their preferred choice was the MIC which Mugilan joined after graduating in 2000 while Sivarraajh, who graduated a year earlier, signed up three years later.
“I never imagined that we would become political rivals now,” said Sivarraajh.
Their rivalry came to a head back in 2010 when Mugilan shot to national fame as president of Gabungan Anti-Samy Vellu (GAS) that pressured former MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu out in December 2010.
At its height, GAS was making daily headlines and Mugilan and two other GAS leaders – CWC members K.P. Samy and G. Kumar Amman – gained instant fame as Samy Vellu critics.
Samy Vellu retaliated by sacking all three but Datuk G. Palanivel, who took over after Samy Vellu stepped down, reinstated all three and they became heroes.
Sivarraajh then gained some notoriety when he opposed their reinstatement and went to the Registrar of Societies to complain. He, in turn, was suspended by the party for several months but was later reinstated.
Sivarraajh said he was banking on his incumbency, close rapport with outgoing MIC Youth chief Datuk T. Mohan and his liaison with youth leaders in the party branches to deliver him the votes.
It is the pretty much the same with Mugilan.
“We occasionally meet up but are not particularly close,” said Mugilan who is banking on his steady rise in the Youth wing, making many contacts along the way, to help him win the race.
He was the Hulu Selangor division youth leader for five terms, national exco member and finally deputy youth leader. Now, he is going for the top post.
“I have been following the party hierarchy step by step and now I feel the time has come to go for the top post as it has been left open,” he said in an interview.
Sivarraajh said one of his strong points was that he was chosen as a candidate in the last general election and had the experience of contesting.
“Although I lost, the experience taught me a lot about politics and winning and losing,” he said, adding that the experience of contesting in the 13th general election was priceless.
Sivarraajh contested in the Buntong constituency in Perak against the DAP’s A. Sivasubramaniam and lost by about 6,000 votes.
Subsequently, he was made a Special Officer to the Perak Mentri Besar.
“I am also fielding a line-up for the deputy and other exco posts. We want to take the youths beyond temples and Tamil school issues,” he said, outlining his vision for the Youth wing if he wins.
Mugilan’s plans for the Youth wing involves extending the issues, not giving up on them.
“I will cover temple and Tamil schools as well as social issues and treat the coming general election as very crucial for Barisan Nasional,” he said, adding that the next general election would be a crossroads of sorts for the party.
“Either we get the Indians back as we did in the 2004 general election or we lose them as in 2008,” he said, adding that the 50-50 situation that the May 5 general election brought was unacceptable.
“I have a plan to work with Indian youths and get them to see Barisan Nasional in a new light,” he said.
Sivarraajh is also banking on his liaison work with youth leaders in his capacity as secretary of the Youth wing together with his close rapport with the outgoing Youth leader T. Mohan to help him in the elections.
Mugilan, on the other hand, says he knows most of the divisional and branch youth leaders.
“I have built a close rapport with them,” he said, adding that his work in GAS would come in handy now.
“I took on Samy Vellu at the height of his powers and forced him to quit,” he said, adding that the Youth wing would be more vocal and vibrant under his leadership.
Both leaders claim they have the endorsement of Palanivel but the president has said he is leaving everything to the delegates.
Nomination will be held tomorrow with polling a week later on Nov 16.