It was reported in one of the national dailies that MIC president S Samy Vellu was advised by the former prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, to take the late K Pathmanaban as his deputy after S Subramaniam contested against him for the presidency and lost. According to Samy, he went against this advice and instead retained Subramaniam as his deputy. In other words, Samy gave him the 'kiss of life'.
Even if Samy was advised to bring in Pathma, one would perceive that the former may not be happy with the idea. Pathma was a highly educated man and had a sound political wisdom. It was his intelligence and wisdom that made the late prime minister, Abdul Razak, bring him into politics. Samy could have either thought that Pathma would be a threat to him or that the largely Tamil MIC would not accept a Malayalee-speaking Indian.
Be it as it may, when Mahathir left the government, Samy took the opportunity to flex his muscles and try once and for all axe his deputy from becoming heir to the MIC throne. This is politics, and one should not blame Samy for doing so.
In fact, when Subra contested against Samy and lost, he should have left the scene gracefully and become an ordinary MIC member. This is a matter of principle and pride. It is either you get it or you leave. But Subra decided to stay on with the hope that he would be forgiven. In politics this does not work unless it is spelled out by an invisible hand.
Samy has led the party for over 20 years. He has contributed to the Indian community and the country but he has also failed to bring up the down-trodden segment of the Indian community. Perhaps within this term of his presidency, he should proudly pass on the baton to his soon-to-be deputy, G Palanivel and others.
The next group of leaders should bring in more dedicated professionals who have made it in life but want to see a lot more being done to uplift the socio-economic status of the many Indians who are left behind due to social displacements.
MIC should also not be seen as a party affiliated to only Tamil-speaking Indians or just for the Hindus. The new leadership should work towards making the party comfortable with all people of Indian origin irrespective of religion, be they Sikhs, Malayalees, Telugus, Ceylonese, Punjabis, Gujeratis, Sindhis, Pakistanis, Indian Muslims or other minorities. Garner their support and have their people represented in the party. Narrow politics based on sect, religion, linguistic differences or parochialism will not augur well for the MIC.
Before the leaders could have realised the setback of constricted politics, many potential leaders and contributors would have left for the many other political parties in the country. The Indians, being a minority group, should be united under one banner to see that the down-trodden among them are enlightened and be given a chance to lead a decent life in this land of opportunity.