Thursday, April 8, 2010

BN's Hulu Selangor Dilemma

Najib seems to be holding his cards very close to his chest when it comes to the BN candidate for Hulu Selangor. While we’ve been given some sneak preview - after some noticeable drama that has apparently transpired behind the scenes - that the BN will hedge its bets on an MIC candidate, there has been enough smoke in the BN circles to suggest that all is not well between the folks at Menara Manickavasagam and Putra World Trade Centre. Indeed, the short distance between the former on Jalan Ipoh and the latter on Jalan Tun Ismail might as well seem like a million kilometers apart.

Although there is little doubt that BN is certainly intent on keeping PR/PKR guessing about its candidate for the time being, it’s also abundantly clear that Umno grassroots movers and shakers in Hulu Selangor are unsettled about the potential of Palanivel as the BN candidate. This latter circumstance is enough to be a slap in the face for the MIC hierarchy (and especially Palanivel who is obviously ambitious in his own right to want to succeed his party’s president in the foreseeable future).

The resistance to his candidacy from various quarters in Umno raises serious challenges both for Palanivel’s credibility as a viable candidate and to the impact it may have on swaying those voters that BN is clearly going to have to win back into its column if it’s to wrestle the seat from PKR. But this must also surely put a real dent on Palanivel’s own confidence as a potential party leader. Let’s just put it this way: it doesn’t quite do wonders for Palanivel’s confidence and reputation when Najib clearly seems pensive and conflicted about the choice.

Putting Palanivel’s personal political (mis)fortunes aside, there remains a palpable discomfort in the BN ranks. So while Pakatan has its work cut out for itself if it hopes to hold on to the seat in Hulu Selangor, it may be just a bit too premature to write PKR off and resign the seat to BN as some “experts” are supposedly telling us. While recent months have shown that Pakatan has many of its own wrinkles, which have to be ironed-out and its own house to put in order, it is not as if BN will not face some stiff voter scrutiny and can simply expect to exploit Pakatan’s follies. And obviously as far as I know, no one is also assuming that Umno/BN’s money-machine will not kick into action when the contest truly heats up.

But it is clear that there is much work yet to be done to narrow the deep wedge between Jalan Tun Ismail and Jalan Ipoh. Under these circumstances, Pakatan has a real opportunity in Hulu Selangor to capitalise on BN’s floundering.

G. Krishnan