The Jakarta Post
After quick counts indicated the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) as the winner in last week's legislative election, the party has fallen victim to a smear campaign launched by rivals vying to undermine the party and its presidential candidate, Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo. The Jakarta Post's Hans David Tampubolon spoke with PDI-P deputy secretary-general Hasto Kristianto late on Saturday about events that have unfolded during and after the election.
Question: Can you explain what actually happened on Wednesday night, following claims of a growing rift between Jokowi and PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri's daughter, Puan Maharani?
Answer: Would you believe that it was all a setup [outside] by certain people who prepared questions that were meant to be a trap [for us]? For example, there were questions [to Jokowi] asking 'why did the PDI-P miss its [election] target?' And they were answered 'we will do an evaluation'. But when the news came out, the title became 'Puan demands an evaluation'.
Pak Jokowi was also asked if he was satisfied with the total votes gained by the PDI-P. He responded by saying that if based on the set target [of 27.02 percent], then he wasn't. But then the news reports came out as 'Jokowi is disappointed'.
This is all by design.
If you look at all the facts, it's pretty clear that when Bu Megawati Soekarnoputri and Mbak Puan spoke, their mood was euphoric and grateful for our victory, which was supported by the people.
During the legislative election, we saw a massive shift in the political map. The election was riddled with vote-buying, intelligence operations, the misuse of state budget funds intended for social assistance programs, the manipulation of the voter list and so on.
Yet, we still managed to change history [by securing the top spots] in West Java and Banten, which are Golkar Party strongholds. We also managed to change the political landscape in South Sumatra.
All of these achievements were made in a situation where
media outlets, especially television, blocked news about the PDI-P and Jokowi. The media blocks were a fact because the general election featured media owners who have become political players.
Television channels were totally utilized by their political owners as campaign tools but at the cost of journalistic ethics and equity.
This was the situation and, yet, we still won. Clearly, we have become a major threat. How did they respond? The strategy was to attack [us].
Attack us by saying the PDI-P fell below its target. Attack us by saying Jokowi had no effect in helping the PDI-P reach its vote target. Attack us by saying there is an internal conflict, while in fact there
It was a scenario created by outside, dark forces worried about the PDI-P's rise.
Now, let's talk about what happened that night [last Wednesday]. What happened was that there was a dinner [at Megawati's residence in Teuku Umar] filled with gratitude after our victory. The fact that we did not reach our target was no longer a concern because we had reached our ultimate goal.
During the dinner, we made small talk about the fruit we were eating and how sad it was to see that most of it was imported, despite the fact that we can produce the same fruit ourselves if we chose to.
Mbak Puan was in Kebagusan [South Jakarta, where Megawati has a second home], monitoring the quick counts. Everyone was very relaxed. So, it was very surprising for us to see someone claim that Puan had dismissed Jokowi during a heated debate. Who is Mbak Puan? She is Megawati's daughter and she respects her mother very much; she is also ethical.
Why were Jokowi and Puan assigned to different teams during the campaign?
Because they have different mass [supporter] bases. Jokowi and Puan complemented each other, there was no rivalry. The party's policy in separating them during the campaign was quite simple: Mbak Puan was deployed to campaign in our party's major stronghold regions, while Pak Jokowi was sent to areas to increase our potential constituencies.
Puan and Jokowi also used different charter planes during the campaign. Why is that?
People misinterpreted the situation. Pak Jokowi used his own chartered flight because he wanted to fulfill people's demand in regions where they wanted to get to know him better. Those regions were potential expansions of the PDI-P's constituent bases. Our competitors have used this situation to spin
rumors about a rift between Jokowi and Puan. Another important reason was to guard Jokowi's safety. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono himself had emphasized the importance of security around presidential candidates. Therefore, we created a lot of decoys.
Is it true that there are three factions ' Jokowi, Puan and Prananda Prabowo [Megawati's second son] ' in the PDI-P?
There are no such factions. Each of them has a different task. Prananda is in charge of our situation room. Mbak Puan is responsible for ensuring election success and victory. Jokowi, because of his mandate as our presidential candidate, is deployed to strengthen and expand our constituencies in regions that are not traditionally our strongholds.
Could the issue regarding an internal rift have been agitated by an insider?
This situation will not disturb us. Infiltrators have been around for a long time. They will always exist in any political party, and we know how to deal with them.
Can Jokowi say 'no' to Megawati?
That is an old issue. Do you think Pak Jokowi is a robot? Ibu Megawati's actions equal her words. She has repeatedly stated that she is preparing a future leader who is firm. Not someone who cannot make decisions. And her language is clear: she has given her mandate
This interview is published as a right of reply by the PDI-P to clarify the article 'Jokowi shrugs off infighting', which was published in The Jakarta Post on Saturday, April 12, 2014.
' The Editor
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