After dithering for weeks, MIC president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel finally showed his authority and power, abruptly removing three Central Working Committee (CWC) members whose personal loyalties had become questionable, and replacing them with three hardcore supporters.
However, the crisis that has gripped the party following a Registrar of Societies (RoS) directive on Dec 5 to hold fresh elections, has only worsened with renewed demands from supporters of deputy president Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam to comply with the RoS directive.
Supporters of Palanivel, who mostly won in the November 2013 polls, are reluctant to call for fresh elections and are devising various ways to avoid one, putting the MIC on a collision course with the RoS.
On Monday, party vice-president Datuk M. Saravanan, who is backing Dr Subramaniam, met senior RoS officials at their office in Putrajaya with youth leader Sivarraajh Chandran and Wanita chief Mohana Muniandy among others and came away, saying the party was not in danger of being de-registered.
This is because former party secretary-general A. Prakash Rao, one of the people removed by Palanivel on Monday, had earlier written to the RoS requesting for time to hold fresh elections and it has been granted.
The party now has 120 days to hold fresh election for top posts.
Saravanan warned that if he is pushed to the wall, he might put in a requisition for a special CWC meeting to decide on holding elections.
"I am willing to wait outside Palanivel's house until I get to see him," he told reporters on Monday.
Matters had come to a head between the factions at the Dec 18 CWC meeting with about 1,000 supporters of Dr Subramaniam gate crashing the MIC headquarters and demanding that Palanivel take responsibility for the party's misfortune and resign.
But the meeting eventually ended amicably with both factions announcing that a joint committee would be formed between both factions and that both Palanivel and Dr Subramaniam would jointly seek clarification from the RoS.
However Palanivel, together with two others, went to see the RoS without Dr Subramaniam's knowledge or his representatives, worsening the suspicions all round.
On Jan 2, Palanivel also wrote to the RoS asking for a time extension to hold fresh elections.
The usually-reserved Dr Subramaniam expressed shock at the outcome.
"I was shocked by the revelation that the president met the director-general of RoS alongside Senator Datuk V. Subramaniam @ Barat Maniam and passed a letter on behalf of the MIC on Dec 24," the deputy president said in a statement.
Dr Subramaniam charged that Palanivel did not respond to his requests for a meeting with him for some weeks now.
"It was decided that the president and myself would go to the RoS with those decisions (made at the meeting), as a way forward to resolve the issues," he said.
"Since that day, I sent numerous text messages to the president requesting him to set up the committee (to look into RoS issue), and initiate discussions. I had also requested to meet him," he added.
Palanivel said he would not let the party be de-registered.
The losers in the December polls, which include supporters of Dr Subramaniam and Palanivel, had gone to the RoS to complain of election irregularities.
Nearly a year later, the RoS wrote back calling for fresh elections in problematic branches, divisions and the central leadership, except for the president and deputy president's post.
The party grassroots is badly shaken by the faction fights and the party's entanglement with the RoS.
"Why don't they have an election as the RoS wants it and be finished with it?" said a Perak division chairman who declined to be named.
"Even the DAP was ordered to hold fresh elections and they complied with it. Why not the MIC?
"Is anybody running the party?" he asked.
Palanivel on Saturday replaced. Prakash with loyalists Datuk G. Kumar Silambaram @ Kumar Amman as well as dropped former loyalists Tan Sri K. S Nijhar, Datuk R. Ramanan, as well as Datuk Sri S. Vell Paari, the vocal son of former benefactor Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.
Supporters of Dr Subramaniam say the abrupt changes were an early sign that Palanivel would, like his predecessor Samy Vellu before him, resort to sacking his opponents as a way out of his problems.
The MIC election, the first under Palanivel, saw long ostracised supporters of former deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam, who is incapacitated, winning with key Samy Vellu lieutenants, losing.
A politically-weak Palanivel had allied himself with Subramaniam's supporters to strengthen himself and fend off Samy Vellu's kinsman, who have been kept out of power and influence under Palanivel.
As part of a deal to avoid a clash between Palanivel and Dr Subramaniam for the president's post, both were elected unopposed with Palanivel becoming president and Dr Subramaniam his deputy with the understanding that Palanivel would retire in early 2016.
But Palanivel has since backtracked on his promise, according to supporters of Dr Subramaniam.