Najib: Auditioning for Umno warlords

(The Malaysian Insider) – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s three-days-a-week-pressing-the-flesh campaign is as much aimed at reconnecting with voters as it is targeted at convincing Umno that he has the tools to lead Barisan Nasional (BN) to victory.

His recent problems and questions about his leadership — which have been raised by the opposition, some Umno warlords, the Perak mufti and the chattering class — have made it necessary for Najib to chart an election-like stumping strategy of leaving his office three times a week to meet the electorate.

The PM is banking on his charisma and ability to dole out cash to boost his administration which has been battered by poor handling of Bersih, tepid action against corruption, flip-flops on reforms, racial and religious strife and personal issues linked to the Scorpene submarine deal and the RM24 million ring.

His advisers believe that the electorate will like what they see and hear when Najib hits the road, convinced that brand Najib will win over doubters.

But an equally important target for him are the Umno warlords, who have been grumbling about the lack of money/contracts; about the PM’s indecisiveness and personal issues of the First Family and pandering to non-Malays and lack of concern for the Bumiputera agenda.

Najib knows that he has to hush these noises if Umno is going to do well at the polls.

He also has to moderate expectations, talking down winning two-thirds majority, knowing that if he does not deliver on a high target he will be vulnerable at the party polls.

For now he does not have to worry about Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the man whose attacks led to the fall of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Dr Mahathir’s friends say that while the former prime minister has some issues with Najib’s leadership, he is not interested in leading any campaign against the PM.

So, it’s up to Najib now to do whatever it takes to deliver a victory for Umno and BN.