KUCHING: Barisan Nasional incumbents dropped for GE14 should remain loyal to the coalition and throw their support behind the nominated candidates.
Its deputy chairman Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi advised the dropped incumbents to demonstrate a strong Barisan spirit to ensure that solidarity among members and grassroots remained intact.
The Deputy Prime Minister made a reference to Batu Pahat Umno division chief Datuk Dr Puad Zakarshi, who was replaced by the division's Wanita chief Harliza Abdullah, to contest in the Batu Pahat parliamentary seat this election.
Harliza's candidacy was announced by Johor Barisan chief Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin on Monday (April 23).
There has been talk about Dr Puad wanting to contest as an independent if he is not selected as a Barisan candidate for GE14.
It is believed that he is eyeing the Batu Pahat parliamentary and Senggarang state seats.
The Special Affairs Department director-general won Batu Pahat in the 2008 general election but lost in GE13 to PKR's Datuk Mohd Idris Jusi by 1,723 votes.
"The decision not to nominate him this time around is based on the study made on the entire political landscape in the area," said Dr Ahmad Zahid.
"He must accept the fact that Barisan had suffered declining support in Batu Pahat and it is hoped that by fielding a new candidate, Barisan can wrest the seat from PKR.
"However, if Dr Puad wants to contest in GE14 under whatever ticket, that is his right, but he should demonstrate strong party spirit, being a supreme council member in the party," Dr Ahmad Zahid told reporters at the Kuching International Airport before flying back to Kuala Lumpur on Monday (April 23).
The Deputy Prime Minister reminded Dr Puad that before his loss in the 2013 general election, Barisan had given him the opportunity to become the Deputy Minister for Education. Dr Puad had also served in the Dewan Negara for two terms.
"Nevertheless, this is a democratic coalition. It is up to him to choose his political direction, but if it is up to me, I will not leave Barisan, let alone contest as an independent candidate," he added.