Word has it that Bollywood movie fans in the coming UMNO elections will give their votes to Malacca Chief Minister Mohd Ali Rustam for the deputy president post, as the state conferred “datukship” to Shah Rukh Khan, a Hindustani movie star.

The mere joke shows how extensive political readings can be for the deputy president post.

Until now, despite the “Bollywood attempt”, UMNO vice-president, Muhyiddin Yassin is still leading the race.

“He is suitable for the post due to his experiences in the government and the party,” said a division chief from Perak.

After all, the division chief added Muhyiddin was one of the frontrunners in bringing up the matter of transition of power to the leaders.

“He has the guts to tell the truth. He expressed the opinions and feelings of the grassroots to the leaders. There was a time when he was almost crucified in the supreme council meeting because of this.

“But he was willing to do that for the sake of UMNO members and the country,” he added.

The division chief is also convinced that Najib Tun Razak and Muhyiddin would make a good team to rejuvenate UMNO.

“Muhyiddin is always the voice of conscience,” he said, adding that the fact that Zahid Hamidi pulled out of the race showed that Najib wanted Muhyiddin to be his running mate.

“It is a well-known fact that Zahid is extremely close to Najib. Najib is Zahid’s mentor, and Zahid knows that Najib wants Muhyiddin,” he said.

However, Ali and Muhammad bin Muhammad Taib will be giving Muhyiddin a tough challenge. The fourth candidate Nur Jazlan Mohamad may want to project himself as a protest candidate, but unfortunately was not taken seriously.

A political observer said people will end up not taking Nur Jazlan seriously due to the move. However, he viewed Ali as a serious contender.

“Ali is using his 4B Youth Movement networking to gather support and votes,” said a political observer.

A division chief in the northern region who is also a leader in the movement said that he has no choice but to nominate Ali for the number two post.

“He takes care of his people. I have been with him for the last 10 years and he has never let me down,” he said, adding that despite the fact that Najib and Muhyiddin was the right combination for the top post but he had to nominate Ali.

“It is a predicament for me where my loyalty is tested to the fullest,” said the leader who is also aligned to Najib’s camp.

On Muhammad Taib, a political observer said most of UMNO divisions in Selangor would nominate him for the post.

“He is loyal to UMNO. Despite being dropped as candidate in the general election, he still worked hard for the party. He is right when he said that he will be the most loyal deputy to the president,” he added.

This time around the contest for the deputy president post would not be as “aggressive” and brutal as the Musa Hitam vs Tengku Razaleigh’s fight, but there is no denying that it will be more exciting.

“The race will set a precedent where two non-vice presidents are trying their luck. One of them may not qualify, as it is a contest of loyalty from their supporters,” said a political observer.

The contest seems reminiscent of a scene from a Bollywood movie. The question now is, will Shar Rukh Khan be retained as the hero? – Oct 13, 2008