PUTRAJAYA - Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has criticised PKR for dragging him into their internal problem.
The Prime Minister said the party should not try to deflect their internal problems by challenging him to stand against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in Kajang.
He said PKR's problem precipitated the by-election and it was wrong for the party to drag him into the mess.
"I don't have any issues with this but this is a problem of PKR. Why should they deflect it and relate it to me? PKR wants the by-election to be held to settle their problem.
"My message is this. Don't drag me in. This is your problem," he said after a meeting with representatives of 40 non-governmental organisations here yesterday.
PKR deputy president Azmin Ali had on Wednesday challenged Najib to stand against the Opposition leader instead of fielding a candidate from MCA or any other Barisan Nasional component party.
The Kajang state seat in Selangor fell vacant following the resignation of its assemblyman Lee Chin Cheh and PKR announced that Anwar will contest for the seat.
Political pundits see this as a move that would allow Anwar to take over Selangor's top job from Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.
Najib, who is also Barisan chairman, said that from his observation, Kajang voters were generally unhappy over the turn of events.
"If we look at the reaction, most of it is negative rather than positive," he said.
Najib said Barisan would call for its supreme council meeting after Chinese New Year to decide whether it should participate in the polls.
He said he was aware of calls for Barisan to stay out of the contest, stressing this needed to be discussed among the coalition members.
In Kuala Lumpur, Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi believed Barisan should seriously look into the request by Umno Youth for the coalition to field the strongest candidate.
Speaking after launching the Chinese New Year Road Safety Campaign here, he said the matter should be given due attention by Barisan leadership, considering that PKR is fielding Anwar.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said only the Barisan chairman had the right to name the candidate but promised that the election machinery would give its best regardless of who was the candidate.
"We stand a good chance in the by-election as Barisan only lost by 6,800 votes during the last general election," he said.
Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin on Tuesday had called on Barisan to choose the best candidate, instead of sticking to the old principles where MCA would contest as the seat traditionally belongs to the party.