The election outcome is also seen as an indirect blow to Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat.

Several Kelantan big-guns aligned to Nik Aziz lost, chief of whom was his “political son” Husam.

The others were vice-president candidate Datuk Nik Amar Nik Abdullah and central committee candidates Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan, Datuk Anuar Tan and Datuk Wan Rahim Wan Abdullah. All are state exco members in the Kelantan administration.

Shortly after the results were announced, Nik Aziz suddenly left the muktamar.

Some thought he had taken the news badly and gone to the hospital. Actually he decided to return to his hotel to rest because he was due to speak at an evening ceramah.

Nik Aziz, despite his Mursyidul Am or spiritual leader status, may increasingly find himself an isolated figure in the party against the ascendant Terengganu faction led by Hadi and his right-hand man Datuk Mustafa Ali.

Another big name casualty in the central committee contest was Khalid Samad, the Shah Alam MP who shot to fame when he visited a Catholic church in his constituency and who has shone in Parliament.

He was one of the most outspoken persons among the moderates and he paid the price for that.

The new scenario is bound to see a shift in ties between PAS and its Pakatan partners.

The most damaging spin against Nasharudin’s campaign is that he is a political adventurist who will take PAS into Umno and that he will be another Nakhaie Ahmad, the highest ranking PAS leader to have ever crossed over to Umno.

Such allegations have been quite unfair to Nasharudin because he has neither the charisma nor energy to do that. At most, he will be a friendly face for Umno.

The party has also made it very explicit that Umno is their prime enemy and they will check him if he tries to steer them towards Umno.

What is most likely to happen is that the group behind Nasharudin will use their Umno ties as a bargaining tool in Pakatan.

This group distrusts Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, they do not want him as the Prime Minister and neither do they wish to be subservient to the secular agenda of DAP.

Many of the more informed delegates agree that Nasharudin has not really performed as a No. 2. He spends too much time overseas and clings too much to the coattails of Hadi.

Even at the present muktamar, he was following Hadi like a faithful shadow rather than striking out to mingle with delegates and members.

The fact that he did well shows the degree to which delegates hold on to the party policy of “leadership by the ulama”.

Nasharudin secured only 480 votes against his challengers’ combined total of 542 votes, a sign that the party is split down the middle on the issue of cooperation with Umno.

Maintaining an ulama in the No. 2 post, whatever his shortcomings, was more important than retaining one of the top performers in the party.

PAS members would be peeved if they knew that a number of Umno leaders had reacted to the election results with glee.

They think the outcome would work to Umno’s advantage.

Same old story

DAP strategist Liew Chin Tong who authored an academic thesis on PAS described the latest development in the party as “the same story with different actors and people playing different roles.”

“For instance, a few years ago, Nasharudin was regarded as one of the agents of change. Today, he has become part of the conservative establishment,” he said.

He noted that PAS, in the last 10 years had struggled with the question of whether it should cooperate with another party, who it should cooperate with and, most of all, the compromises it will have to make.

“It is evident they want to respect the ulama and keep the party intact,” said Liew.

PAS will assume a more conservative outlook after this, or at least, over the next two years.

But it will not go backwards as some have suggested. It will also not go very far forward withUntitout the ideas, energy and networking of the reformist group whose powers have been checked.

Basically, the party is still trying to find a balance between its Islamic ideals and the imperatives of politics.

It has very clear objectives for the near future – a spanking new headquarters in Putrajaya, capturing the Federal Government and claiming the post of Prime Minister.

The only problem is that not many people believe the party can achieve that under the new team. – The Star