KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — Umno has been engulfed by speculation that several senior leaders including incumbent Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim could be dropped for the 15th general election that some within the party had initially resisted.
Aside from Shahidan, sources told Malay Mail at least one more minister, Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba, was also likely to miss the cut, but more could join the heap before the clear-out was over.
Others also that could also end up on the sidelines during nomination day on November 5 include incumbent Padang Besar MP Datuk Seri Zahidi Zainul Abidin
When asked if Umno expected the dropped incumbents to go rogue and launch independent defences of their seats, the sources said it was more likely they would defect to former ally PAS.
“They won’t (contest as independents), but they may contest under PAS’ banner,” one source told Malay Mail.
Such rumours have intensified since Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s warning on Saturday for “big headed” leaders in the party to finally realise that all they were and have were because of Umno.
While Ahmad Zahid had faced insubordination and challenges to his leadership as part of the factional politics in Umno, he holds the trump card at the moment as the party president responsible for endorsing the candidate list for GE15.
Even before the rumours, Ahmad Zahid had flexed his powers by expelling incumbent Pasir Salak MP Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman from the Umno supreme council and later suspending his membership for six years.
After some initial agitation, Tajuddin appears to have been brought to heel.
Apart from those four leaders, the sources added other likely casualties include one state chief whose exclusion would likely surprise Umno and Barisan Nasional.
However, the sources said the decisions were not cast in stone and may be changed up until nomination on November 5, and some of those facing the axe may still be able to plead their cases until then.
Earlier today, it was reported that BN will unveil its 222 candidates for the upcoming November polls as early as tomorrow.
Ummo Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, who is rumoured to be contesting in the Gerik parliamentary seat, told English daily New Straits Times that the identities of the candidates were secondary to the party they represented.
Polling for GE15 will be held on November 19.