Nijhar: Let there be a debate on contest for top MIC post.

G. Palanivel (R), incumbent deputy president of Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC).

PETALING JAYA - A veteran leader has called for more debates over whether the president's post should be contested at the MIC elections in September.

Former MIC vice-president Tan Sri K. S. Nijhar said doing so would provide a clearer picture of the consequences of having a contest.

"Let there be a debate on the pros and cons of a contest. There is no harm in party members giving their views," he said in a statement.

Nominations for the president's post has been set for Sept 1, with polling to be held on Sept 22 if there is a contest.

Datuk Seri G. Palanivel became the party president after Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu stepped down in December 2010.

Palanivel, who is Natural Resour­ces and Environment Minister, had indicated that he would contest for the post and would only be staying for a single three-year term.

"If I am chosen (as the party president), it will be my last as I am already 64 years old. After that, I will step down," he said.

There are reports that deputy president Datuk Seri Dr S. Subra­maniam, who is the Health Minister, would challenge Palanivel, but a decision is only expected next month.

Nijhar said the two ministerial posts were at stake, and MIC could end up holding only one if there was a contest between the two leaders.

"The party will be divided and become weaker," he said.

While several states have passed resolutions calling for "no contest", Samy Vellu said a contest was part of the democratic process necessary to make changes and strengthen the party.

Former MIC senator Datuk Daljit Singh Dhaliwal said there was no truth to reports he was planning to contest for the president's post out of spite.

"I feel there should be a change in the party leadership and since there is an election, I am offering myself as I feel I can do better," he said.

Daljit had sought to be re-nominated for a second term as a senator and also lobbied for the Subang parliamentary seat, but was not considered on both occasions.

"Although I do not hold any posts, I have served the community and worked for Barisan Nasional in the general election," said Daljit, who added that he was willing to step aside if another strong and youthful leader was ready to take on Palanivel for the top post.