A former Barisan Nasional state assemblyman and popular blogger Mohd Ariff Sabri today claimed that the Tapah parliamentary constituency was not a sure bet for BN and that the constituency could fall to Pakatan Rakyat if the opposition pact wins over 20% Indian support in the tussle for the seat.
Ariff, the former state representative of Pulau Manis, in Pekan, Pahang said the Tapah parliamentary seat considered to be safe by the BN could fall if only 20% of Indian voters there reject the ruling coalition and opt for Pakatan.
In his latest posting titled “GE 13: Targeting Perak”, Ariff , who runs the “Sakmongkol AK47″ blog, also said that BN will win only seven parliamentary seats in the state.
Perak has in total 24 parliamentary seats. At the 2008 general election, BN had won 13 seats.
However, Ariff felt that out of the 13 parliamentary seats, the ruling coalition stood a good chance of winning only seven seats.
At the 2008 general election, MIC, the largest Indian-based political party in the country, managed to secure Tapah through its vice-president and rising star M Saravanan.
The party was allocated two parliamentary and four state seats in Perak. The 2008 general election also witnessed the fall of then MIC supremo S Samy Vellu in Sungai Siput.
Saravanan won the seat defeating PKR’s Tan Seng Toh with a 3,020-vote majority. He was then appointed Federal Territories and Urban Well-Being Deputy Minister.
Despite political pundits’ belief that Tapah was a safe BN seat, a Tapah DAP leader agreed with Ariff.
“There is a good chance that Pakatan might win in Tapah at the next polls. Nothing is impossible in the coming election,” he said, declining to be named.
He said the Pakatan candidate needs to “attack ” the Malay ground to ensure a sound victory in Tapah.
Pakatan needs Malay support
Tapah is relatively a small constituency in terms of number of registered voters. It has about 38,000 voters with Malays constituting about 47%, Chinese 32%, Indians and Orang Asli 20% and 1% respectively.
“With the current political situation, Saravanan can forget Chinese votes. But, he has good relations with the Malays and Indians. So, Pakatan needs the Malays to capture the seat. Saravanan has the local Indian support. That is his strong point,” the DAP man added.
He said the opposition would not play up local issues in the run-up to the polls as Saravanan has done a lot of ground work to strengthen his position in the constituency.
“His downfall could be due to national politics of the BN. The current national political scenario does not favour the BN… this could work against Saravanan,” he added.
He said Pakatan had been conducting roadshows and ceramahs on a weekly basis in Tapah, but all issues raised touched on national politics.
“The crowd is attracted to issues like the National Feedlot Centre [NFC] fiasco and the RM40 million political fund to Sabah Umno,” he added.
While Saravanan is almost certain to be the BN candidate for Tapah, Pakatan is mulling over its candidate for the seat.
Speculation is rife that Tapah PKR deputy chairman Dr Yap Thong would be fielded to take on Saravanan at the next general election. - B Nantha Kumar via FMT