AMONG the eight contenders for the three MIC vice-president’s posts, businessman James C.S. Selvaraja stands out.
He is the only one among the aspirants for a top central post not carrying the title “Datuk”.
Datuk Seri G. Palanivel was elected unopposed as party president on Sept 1 while Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam was returned without contest on Nov 16.
Dr Subramaniam was an elected vice-president at the last party polls in 2009 but moved up a slot to the No. 2 post after long-serving president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu handed over the reins of the party to Palanivel in December 2010.
The remaining two incumbents, Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Datuk M. Saravanan and Perak legislative assembly Speaker Datuk Seri S.K. Devamany are back in the race to defend their positions.
Also in the contest are treasurer-general Datuk Jaspal Singh and former vice-president Datuk S. Sothinathan.
The others are former MIC Youth chiefs Datuk S. A. Vigneswaran and Datuk T. Mohan and Johor MIC treasurer Datuk S. Balakrishnan.
More than 1,400 delegates will elect the three VPs and 23 central working committee (CWC) members in the party election that is due to be held in Malacca on Nov 30.
It is learnt the Tanjung Malim and Kuala Selangor divisions were not allowed to send their representatives as the two divisions had not had their meetings while 15 delegates each from the junior Putera and Puteri wings were also not allowed to vote.
Selvaraja said although he is not a heavyweight player in the VP race, he would be banking on his service to the party and the community.
“I came up the ranks in the party through the Youth wing and I am willing to serve the party and the community,” added Selvaraja, who is the Bukit Bintang MIC division deputy chief.
Sothinathan, a vice-president from 2006 to 2009, said: “In the past three to four years, when I was not in the mainstream of politics, I faced hurdles in the course of serving the people. My hands were tied and I couldn’t effectively serve the Indian community.”
Sothinathan, who contested and lost in the fight for the deputy president’s post in 2008, said there was a strong need to strengthen the party to get back to its glory days.
“This can only be done through unity in MIC. When MIC is united, the Indian community, too, will be united,” he said. Devamany admitted the campaigning has been intense as the competition is strong.
“With this election, MIC will look to transform itself to be more relevant to the Indian community. The grassroots level wants change,” he said.
He added that the multi-cornered fight for the VP post showed there was democracy in MIC.
Saravanan said his current position in MIC and the Cabinet had given him strong support.
“The MIC history showed that party members give importance to those who hold key posts in the party and in the Cabinet,” he said.
Mohan, contesting for the first time, said: “It’s going to be fierce and every candidate has his own strengths. My strength lies with the Youth and Wanita members.”
Jaspal, a long serving party treasurer-general, had been engaging with the divisions regularly.
“I have gone and met all the division chiefs and confident they will make a wise choice,” he said.
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