CAN someone confirm this for me - I was made to understand that Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, an aspirant for the deputy president post in Umno, had a pow-wow with Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak earlier this evening (Monday).
Zahid, once Najib's political secretary and now a Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, had announced his interest to vie for the number two post. I'm not sure whether Zahid sought the meeting with Najib or he was summoned by the Deputy PM.
Zahid's declaration to make a bid for the top post was met with much talk on the ground. I'm also told that a few divisions had begun to give a second thought as to who they would nominate to contest the number two post, especially in Perak.
These divisions, who had earlier hinted strongly that they would back Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, a front runner in the race despite not officially announcing his interest, had begun to waver and may opt for Zahid instead.
Sources close to senior Umno leaders said it wasn't a happy meeting the two had. In Umno's tradition, the behind-the-scene deals are just as important, if not more, than the public announcements.
Zahid's announcement had caught many people by surprise, and Najib was believed to be one of them. In Umno politics, not telling your boss of your intentions can yield a somewhat awkward situation.
Questions: What transpired at the meeting between Najib and Zahid (if indeed it took place?). Would Najib discourage Zahid from proceeding to seek nominations? What reasons Zahid offered by way of justifying his intention?
At this point in time, Zahid, Malacca Chief Minister and Vice President Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam and Tan Sri Mohamad Rahmat's son, Datuk Nur Jazlan, are the only ones who had openly declared their interest to contest. The other vice president, International Trade and Industry Minister, Muhyiddin, has yet to publicly expressed his desire to contest.
Question: Must an aspirant explain to his boss his reasons to contest? Would Ali and Nur Jazlan be also hauled up like Zahid? Is this a form of an unofficial 'vetting' before a potential candidate can try to advance his political career?
This is the Umno way, the intrigue that's been practised over the years. Some commentators said Zahid is being planted to contest to put a check on Muhyiddin, seen to be a strong critic of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Muhyiddin has been speaking up and made strong statements that Umno must reform itself, starting from the top.
In the next few days, some of these questions will be answered. Just be patient.