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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Jokowi nears PDI-P nomination


Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo: (JP/P.J. Leo)


Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairperson Megawati Soekarnoputri and Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo visited the tomb of the country’s first president, Sukarno, in Blitar, East Java, on Wednesday, a move seen by many as a signal the party leader had given her “blessing” to Jokowi’s nomination as the party’s presidential candidate.

Megawati was earlier scheduled to deliver a speech at a gathering of hundreds of village heads from all over the country to brief them on the implementation of the newly endorsed Village Law in Bogor, West Java.

She did not show at the event, and it was later revealed she had left the city at midnight with Jokowi to pray at Sukarno’s grave.

Party executive Komaruddin Watubun confirmed Megawati had traveled to Blitar with Jokowi and that he had been assigned to replace the party’s chair to deliver a speech.

“I can’t disclose such a confidential matter. But I was told [to take her place in this gathering] at the last minute, meaning the visit [to Blitar] was really important,” Komaruddin said.

Later in the day, Megawati and her entourage arrived in Blitar at around 10 a.m. with Jokowi at her side. After wrapping up the visit to the grave, Jokowi joined Megawati for lunch at a hotel in Malang, shortly before departing for Jakarta.

Neither Megawati nor Jokowi issued a statement during the journey and only smiled when reporters asked if the visit had anything to do with Jokowi’s nomination.

Last year, Megawati traveled with Jokowi to a number of cities to introduce him to members of the party, which many saw as a sign that the party chairperson was preparing Jokowi for the country’s top job.

PDI-P deputy secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto, however, shrugged off such speculation, saying the visit to Sukarno’s grave was simply a tradition for the party.

“It’s a tradition to rekindle the spirit of Sukarno and instill his teachings in our heart as we approach the election,” Hasto said.

With the legislative election less than a month away, it looks certain the PDI-P will nominate Jokowi as its presidential candidate.

Komaruddin said it was only a matter of time before the party announced its decision to nominate Jokowi. He said the party’s rank and file were united in their support for Jokowi.

“It’s just a matter of time. Politics is about momentum. We’re waiting for the right moment to announce it. It’s already clear the public and the PDI-P’s structural leadership want Jokowi to represent the party in the presidential election,” he said.

He also added that Megawati had agreed to endorse Jokowi.

In the lead-up to the legislative election, Jokowi has been very busy, especially on weekends, when he has been expected to campaign for the legislative election for the PDI-P.

Last week, Jokowi visited Aceh, North Sumatra and Riau. “I attended PDI-P events to brief party members,” he said on Tuesday. “I don’t have to take leave for attending events at weekends,” he said.

Jokowi, who would be a formidable opponent in the upcoming presidential election if he receives his party’s nomination, has been named one of the PDI-P’s national campaigners for the legislative election.

Speculation is rife that Jokowi will be paired with former vice president Jusuf Kalla, one of the most popular candidates for the vice presidential slot.

A source, who wished to remain anonymous and who is familiar with the matter, said that Kalla’s team had worked to prevent party chairman Hatta Rajasa from running as vice presidential candidate for Jokowi.

Hans David Tampubolon contributed to this report.

 
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