PETALING JAYA: The existence of a plot within Umno to topple Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi comes as no surprise for veteran party member Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
"I've heard about this for some time. Whoever rises up will be pulled down.
"However, I've never been involved in such things. If I want to fight, I'll do it in the open," he told Sinar Harian.
When asked if the movement to bring Ahmad Zahid down was done in hope of Umno re-establishing ties with Perikatan Nasional, he said such a scheme was futile as most party members want to sever ties.
"Maybe only a few want to keep it, but 147 out of 191 divisions have said they do not want to collaborate with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia. This isn't a small number," he was quoted as saying by Sinar Harian, said, adding that the grassroots made the decision independently without interference from the party's top leadership.
The Gua Musang MP said Umno has strong roots in the country and it should not kowtow to splinter parties like PAS and Bersatu.
"PAS split from Umno in 1951 and tried to bring down Umno but failed," he said.
He also said that the 15 former Umno MPs who left the party for Bersatu following the 14th General Election, did not carry over Umno's strong grassroots support.
"Take Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed for example, who is from Kelantan. Although he won in Jeli, he is actually a Bachok boy.
"But he doesn't have any supporters in Bachok and he went back to Jeli where he won. The grassroots did not follow because they support Umno," he said.
The Jeli MP won the seat under Barisan Nasional in 2018 but switched to Bersatu in October that year.
Tengku Razaleigh said Umno needed to continue strengthening its foundation in order to achieve its goals.
"Without a strong foundation, we cannot move forward," he said.
At the recent Umno general assembly, the party said it had decided to cut ties with Perikatan lynchpin party, Bersatu, as it prepares for the next general election.
Soon after Ahmad Zahid's presidential speech at the assembly, Tengku Razaleigh, who is also Umno advisory board chairman, said Umno leaders in the Perikatan government should resign from their positions immediately.
However, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin later said that he managed to convince Umno ministers to stay for the benefit of the country.