The rift between PAS spiritual adviser Nik Aziz Nik Mat and party president Hadi Awang is finally out in the open. Nik Aziz today stunned party members by asking deputy president, Nasharuddin Mat Isa, to quit the party and join Umno. The statement has wide implications because Nasharuddin has the ears of party president Hadi Awang, who is also advocating unity talks with Umno.
Party secretary-general Mustafa Ali, another ally of Hadi, issued a statement saying the talks should include PKR and DAP. It is not clear, at this point, whether the two parties would accept the proposal. It would be harder for PKR which cannot dismiss the sentiments of the Malay support but the question is whether PAS would go ahead if PKR declines. It seems to be aimed at appeasing the allies in Pakatan Rakyat.
But the bottom line is this - Nasharuddin and his men won most of the seats in the leadership in the recent general assembly, when party delegates were already well aware of their plans for unity talks. Hadi and Nash can claim endorsements and the fact their men swept the key positions would have strengthened their case.
The religious zeal of PAS members, believing they are pushing for an Islamic agenda, also set them apart from the PKR and DAP supporters. Anwar Ibrahim seems to be scrambling to glue the opposition alliance together but the message he would probably get from Hadi is that he should not take PAS for granted.
Many are uneasy with the aggressive nature of some DAP elected representatives, pointing out the antics at the Perak assembly, which they said would not be approved by the Malay community. Some PAS leaders have expressed their unhappiness in private with claims that they have been "sidelined" in PR and that DAP appears to be playing a more prominent role.