Although MIC is confident of avoiding another dismal electoral performance, nonetheless the party leadership is aware that it will be a rough ride.
GEORGE TOWN: Pakatan Rakyat Indian grassroots and its noisy cyber commentators may claim that the next general election will hammer the final nail in MIC’s coffin and send it into political extinction.
However, despite facing an imminent toughest electoral challenge in its history, G Palanivel-led MIC is quietly confident that it could turn the table against and win many seats.
Boosted by growing support among the Malay and Indian electorates, sources said the party’s strategists were increasingly poised of winning six parliamentary and between 11 and 17 state seats in the next polls.
Like in the 12th general election, MIC would contest in nine federal and 19 state constituencies in the 13th election.
Its federal seats are Sungai Siput, Tapah, Cameron Highlands, Hulu Selangor, Subang, Kapar, Kota Raja, Teluk Kemang and Segamat.
In the 2008 general election, MIC won only Cameron Highlands, Tapah and Segamat before regaining Hulu Selangor via a by-election later.
This time it is confident of winning all except Subang, Kapar and Kota Raja.
Its state seats are Lunas and Bukit Selambau (Kedah), Prai and Bagan Dalam (Penang), Pasir Panjang, Behrang, Sungkai and Hutan Melintang (Perak), Batu Caves, Ijok and Sri Andalas (Selangor), Jeram Padang and Port Dickson (Negeri Sembilan), Kahang, Permas, Tenggaroh and Gambir (Johor), Malacca’s Asahan and Pahang’s Sabai.
Among these seats, MIC believes it had a fighting chance to clinch Lunas, Bukit Selambau, Bagan Dalam, Prai, Pasir Panjang, Behrang, Sungkai, Hutan Melintang, Batu Caves, Ijok, Jeram Padang, Kahang, Tenggaroh, Gambir, Asahan and Sabai.
The party, however, concededed that Sri Andalas and Port Dickson were difficult seats, while it also feared losing Permas due to the inept performance of incumbent MM Samy.
In the last election, MIC won only the four Johor seats, Asahan, Jeram Padang and Sabai.
Right formula is crucial
Although MIC was confident of avoiding another dismal electoral performance, nonetheless the party leadership was aware that it would be a rough ride towards the finishing line.
Party insiders concurred that MIC must first apply the right formula to win these seats, combining winnable candidates with effective campaign strategies.
They said the right formula would be crucial in seats that MIC lost narrowly in 2008.
The party had submitted a list of 56 names of potential winnable candidates, two for each constituency, to Barisan Nasional national chairman Najib Tun Razak.
The MIC leadership was also contemplating shifting chosen candidates to different constituencies to increase their chances of winning, such as in Prai, Lunas, Bukit Selambau and Batu Caves.
Party insiders said a capable winnable candidate could draw some 1,000 to 2,000 votes on his own.
“In the current political scenario, it’s a huge amount of votes. As BN faces a tough adversary, each vote counts,” said a MIC top leader.
Among main factors boosting MIC’s confidence was the alleged surging shift of support among ethnic Indians and Malays from Pakatan Rakyat towards BN.
Sources claimed that MIC and BN’s own ground studies and intelligence reports revealed that some 60% to 65% of Malays and Indians would back BN in the coming polls.
Chinese support for BN stood between 25% and 30%, said the source.
Sources said MIC would tap on Najib’s rapidly increasing popularity among the Indian community.
“Many working class Indians are impressed with Najib’s direct touch to address and resolve their issues spot on. This can tilt the balance in MIC’s favour in a close fight,” said a party insider.