PAS grassroots are expected to cast protest votes instead of backing Umno acting chairperson Mohamad Hasan in the Rantau by-election, according to PKR Youth vice-chief Syed Badli Shah Syed Osman.
He said this is because PAS grassroots are upset with their leaders' close ties with Umno, which was once the Islamist party's arch nemesis.
“For a long time, the grassroots upheld the principle to reject the wrongs of Umno and BN. Now they are confused and pressured by their leaders who want political cooperation with Umno.
“Their confidence (in the PAS leadership) has eroded after PAS withdrew its defamation suit against Sarawak Report,” Syed Badli added in a statement this afternoon.
He said he is confident that a large portion of the PAS grassroots is still loyal to the principles of the party's late spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, who was opposed to PAS cooperating with Umno.
“Umno is in a desperate state until it has to utilise PAS based on the propaganda of uniting Malays to regain its strength,” he added.
PAS and Umno formalised their cooperation recently after the parties' collaboration proved successful in the Cameron Highlands and Semenyih by-elections.
Rantau is a Malay-majority state seat with a significant number of Chinese and Indian voters as well.
In the last general election, Mohamad won the seat uncontested after the Election Commission barred his sole opponent from PKR, Dr S Streram, from filing his nomination papers.
Streram subsequently filed an election petition and the court ordered a by-election to be held. Pakatan Harapan has decided to field Streram again for the April 13 contest.