JAKARTA - Jakarta Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has revealed that Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri had little confidence in him when they first met.
The governor, largely seen as the most electable potential candidate in the 2014 presidential election, made the revelation during a dialogue at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN) in Ciputat, South Tangerang, on Saturday. Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini also attended the event.
Jokowi said that Megawati - who has the prerogative to nominate a presidential candidate to represent the party she co-founded - initially doubted his capacity and capability as a leader when he was considered by the PDI-P as a candidate for the position of Surakarta mayor nine years ago. "When I went [to Megawati's residence], I was introduced to Bu Mega [by my running mate, FX Hadi 'Rudy' Rudyatmo]," he said as quoted by kompas.com.
During the meeting, it emerged that Megawati was unsure about Jokowi's future political career due to his slight figure. "Can't you find other candidates? Why [is he so] skinny? He doesn't look like he has a body of a mayor," Jokowi said in relating what Megawati said to Rudy.
Rudy then explained to Megawati that Jokowi's nomination had been approved by the party through the right mechanisms, according to Jokowi. After that, he was able to change Megawati's mind, especially after he was reelected to lead Surakarta for a second term, he said.
But before he finished his second term, he was once again summoned by Megawati. This time he was offered the opportunity to be named the party's candidate for the Jakarta gubernatorial election in 2012.
However, when Jokowi met Megawati, he cheekily remarked: "I'm terribly sorry Bu, I am skinny. And I don't have the [right] body type to become Jakarta governor," he said.
Megawati was initially surprised upon learning that he was aware of her initial impression of him, Jokowi said.
"Finally, I became determined to put on weight, but Bu Mega has failed to make me fat. No matter where I am taken to eat, my weight remains 54 kilograms," he said, eliciting laughter from the audience.
While Jokowi's relationship with Megawati got off to a rocky start, things have improved and they often make public appearances together.
Many speculate the budding relationship between the two is a sign that Jokowi may be nominated by the party as its presidential candidate in 2014. The party is believed to be waiting for the right moment to publicly endorse Jokowi, who was elected Jakarta governor in 2012.
Despite the calls for him to run for the presidency, many others expect him to complete his term as Jakarta governor.
Several party officials have suggested Jokowi be paired with Megawati. PDI-P deputy secretary-general Hasto Kristianto said a possible Megawati-Jokowi ticket had been warmly received by party members.
He said Megawati was the perfect figure to lead the country given the complexity of its problems. He added that she could also protect Jokowi from political attacks.