Saturday, April 7, 2012

PKR Gives Up on Indian Votes

PKR Gives Up on Indian Votes

Opposition party PKR has bowed to reality and accepted a fact that was obvious to most observers – that it will lose massively among Indian voters in GE13.

PKR expects to lose more than one-third of its Indian votes to Barisan Nasional in the coming polls, according to PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli.

"This time I believe the record (of getting nearly 80 per cent of Indian votes in 2008) will be hard to defend, with several issues in MIC involving its leadership going in a direction which the Indian community feels more comfortable with," he told Berita Harian.

Rafizi admitted that MIC president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel had worked hard to attract Indian voters nationwide.

At the federal level too, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has implemented several initiatives for the Indian community, including a micro-credit scheme for low-income Indian families. He has also attracted broad support across our multi-ethnic society for his 1Malaysia programme.

As a result, Najib has a huge 80 per cent approval rating among Indian voters, according to independent pollster Merdeka Center.

No wonder the Opposition has given up on the Indian vote.

This is also a failure of PKR to hold on to Indian support. After the 2008 election, opposition solidarity had disintegrated, with Hindraf claiming that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) failed to solve any of the problems faced by Indians.

Hindraf announced recently that it would only support PR in GE13 if the alliance officially endorsed Hindraf's 18-point demands for an end to institutionalised racism against Indians.

But that didn't materialise, with PR leaders thinking they could make do with only Malay and Chinese votes. The Indian community, after all, does not form a majority in any of the country's 222 parliamentary constituencies.

Even today, PKR believes that dwindling Indian support will be compensated by Chinese and Malay votes.

"I am confident that the support from the Chinese community will increase while the propensity of the Malays to keep choosing PKR will be maintained, " Rafizi claimed.

This complacency could cost the Opposition dearly on polling day. After all, 74 per cent of Malay voters support Najib, as do 56 per cent of Chinese voters.

And while the Indian community may not form a majority in any constituency on its own, it could play a crucial kingmaker role.

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