Penang MIC Youth today called on Umno to focus on winning the by-election for the Bukit Selambau state seat in Kedah instead of harping on which party should contest it.
In view of this, Penang MIC Youth chief M Suresh said Umno must stop disputing the allocation of the seat to MIC.
He pointed out that public attrition among Barisan Nasional parties over the issue would only undermine the coalition’s unity and dampen its chance of winning.
“The dispute is unwarranted. It would only portray a wrong picture about unity in BN,” he added in a statement.
Suresh was referring to recent statements from Jerlun MP Mukriz Mahathir, an Umno Youth chief aspirant, and several Kedah Umno leaders calling on the BN leadership to allot the seat to Umno.
“Local Umno leaders should stop issuing irresponsible statements that would undermine BN’s credibility and solidarity as well as hamper the coalition’s chances of winning back the seat,” he said.
Kedah Umno leaders felt that Umno had a better chance of winning the seat since MIC had lost its credibility among its traditional Indian voters.
Support for Umno declined as well
However, Kedah MIC disputed this, arguing that the party lost the seat in the previous general election because the traditional supporters of BN had deserted the coalition due to various reasons.
Bukit Selambau is one of the two state seats under the Merbok parliamentary constituency, the other being Tanjung Dawai.
Kedah MIC had retorted that Umno too had lost substantial support among the Malays with its defeats in Merbok and Tanjung Dawai against both PKR and PAS.
Kedah MIC chief V Saravanan, 67, who is among the favourites to contest, said BN’s defeat in the two state seats as well as Merbok showed that the coalition had lost more than 50 percent of support from each community across the constituency.
Bukit Selambau, a semi-urban constituency, has little over 50 percent Malay voters, with about 30 percent Indian and 20 percent Chinese.
With its sizable number of Indian voters in the constitutency, Bukit Selambau had been traditionally contested by MIC on behalf of the BN coalition.
In the last March general election, MIC’s S Krishnan lost by 2,362 vote-margin to PKR’s V Arumugam.
Arumugam, 54, resigned abruptly from both his assembly seat and executive councillor post early this month, paving the way for the by-election.
Nomination day is on March 29.
Meanwhile, Suresh said the tussle for seat between Umno and MIC was unhealthy and would only gift the Pakatan Rakyat with ammunition to fire at BN.
He said BN’s policy had always been to back all its electoral candidates notwithstanding from which component party they came from.
“Instead of disputing the candidacy, BN coalition partners should close ranks to ensure victory for the candidate. Let the top leadership resolve the issue,” he added.