Manikumar’s baptism by fire

By Shanon Shah (The Nut Graph)

S MANIKUMAR, 35, has many fires to fight. The Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) candidate for the Bukit Selambau by-election has to firstly compete against 14 other candidates for this state assembly seat.

Secondly, there are the criticisms that he is too young, inexperienced and not media savvy. On top of this, despite strenuous denials, are allegations that Manikumar was earmarked by PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the party's candidate, even before the party's selection process got under way. 

This is what apparently raised the ire of other PKR hopefuls like B Kalaivanar, A Jayagopal, S Moganakumar and Hindraf national coordinator RS Thanenthiran. Their spat with PKR and Manikumar has been public and vicious, even though PKR has repeatedly tried to downplay it.

As part of the campaign to discredit Manikumar, his detractors are also using the fact that he was born and raised in Alor Setar, not Sungai Petani, against him. Apparently Indian Malaysian voters in Bukit Selambau do not take too kindly to being represented by "outsiders".

And yet, many observers are saying that Manikumar has one thing on his side — the still-prevalent unpopularity of the BN, and specifically MIC president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu.

How is Manikumar holding up? Can he put out all these fires in time to retain PKR's incumbency in Bukit Selambau come 7 April? The Nut Graph speaks exclusively with him at PKR Youth's operations center in Bukit Selambau.

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