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INDONESIA POLLS: Jokowi shrugs off infighting

Publication Date : 12-04-2014

 

Unmoved by friction within his party, Jakarta Governor and Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) presidential candidate Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said it made no sense to look back, adding that he and his party needed to prepare for the future.

“The [presidential] election is only three months away […] We have entered an electoral race for which we must be ready,” Jokowi told dozens of his supporters, members of the pro-Jokowi movement, Projo, in South Jakarta on Friday.

On Thursday, a number of PDI-P officials, led by secretary-general Tjahjo Kumolo, visited the headquarters of the Nasdem Party and met chairman Surya Paloh in a move believed to be part of preliminary talks for a coalition ahead of the July 9 presidential election. Party executives had hinted that the PDI-P would form a coalition with a maximum of five political parties.

Earlier on Wednesday, news about PDI-P infighting broke a few hours after the quick-count results of the legislative election were revealed. Jokowi visited PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri’s home on Jl. Teuku Umar in Central Jakarta on Wednesday evening.

He said, upon arriving at Megawati’s home, that his visit was to participate in an internal evaluation of the PDI-P’s disappointing performance in the election. It only secured around 19 per cent of the vote, according to the quick counts, far lower than its targeted 27.02 per cent.

Before joining the meeting, Jokowi told reporters that he was of course “disappointed” over the results and blamed the PDI-P’s political marketing strategy, which he believed had not been maximised.

Around 15 minutes later, however, Jokowi reappeared from the meeting and toned down his previous statements. He said, before leaving, that all elements within the PDI-P were thankful that the party had won the most votes during the election.

Whatever happened inside Megawati’s house resulted in Jokowi changing his tone, at least for the public, regarding the election results.

A source within the PDI-P, who wished to remain anonymous, said a heated debate had ensued inside the house between rival supporters of Jokowi on the one hand and Megawati’s daughter, Puan Maharani, who is head of the party’s general election division, on the other.

Both camps, according to the source, started pointing fingers and played the blame game.

“Puan then told Jokowi to leave. She was very disappointed, as she had expected Jokowi’s popularity to help the PDI-P win at least 30 per cent of the vote, paving the way for her to become the party’s
vice presidential candidate later on,” the source said, adding that Megawati had broken down in tears during the debate.

“Megawati cried, not because she was sad to see Jokowi ousted from her home by her own daughter, but because she was witnessing a growing gap between Puan and her second son, Prananda Prabowo, who backs Jokowi.”

Prananda is the son of Megawati from her first husband the late Surindro Supjarso while Puan is the daughter of her third husband, the late Taufiq Kiemas.

Asked about the conflict between Prananda and his half sister Puan, PDI-P politician Aria Bima said the claims were untrue. “I know both Prananda and Puan very well. Puan clearly supports Jokowi wholeheartedly. Outsiders are the ones who like to stir things up by spreading stories about rifts within our party,” Aria told The Jakarta Post by phone on Friday.

The PDI-P’s deputy secretary-general, Ahmad Basarah, stressed that whatever happened during the internal evaluation following the legislative election was part of the dynamic within the party and did not necessarily suggest a growing conflict between different factions.

Hasyim Widhiarto contributed to the story.

 

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