Jokowi's rising star puts Megawati in the shade

JAKARTA - The cult of personality surrounding Ms Megawati Sukarnoputri and making her the most powerful figure in the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) is gradually fading with the rise of populist Jakarta Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

For decades, PDI-P members saw Ms Megawati as the political heir of the country's first president, Sukarno, her father.

Her political clout, however, has begun to fade, with the party seemingly wanting her to hang up her cleats and let the younger generation lead - thanks mainly to the rising popularity of Mr Widodo, pegged as the front runner in the 2014 presidential election.

On Saturday, when the party was holding its national meeting in Ancol, North Jakarta, as many as four banners with a picture of Mr Widodo's face and the slogan, "Jokowi Yes, Megawati No", were found hanging in major streets in East Jakarta.

It was not known who put up the banners, and party executive Andreas Hugo Pareira said the banners "definitely did not come from the party's members".

Mr Widodo, meanwhile, continued to gain endorsements for a possible presidential run. During Saturday's closed-door meeting aimed at hearing the aspirations of local party chapters, five out of eight party-chapter teams from across the country expressed support for his bid. Two teams said they were open to the nomination of Mr Widodo, Ms Megawati or Ms Puan Maharani, one of Ms Megawati's two children active in the party.

Only one team, comprising party chapters from Bali, East Nusa Tenggara and West Nusa Tenggara, said they left the decision completely in Ms Megawati's hands.

In terms of timing, Mr Andreas said, making a last-minute decision on a candidate would not be beneficial as the party needed to promote the candidate to the public.

He added that the majority of the party members were now aiming to win the legislative election first before deciding who would be the presidential candidate.

Ms Megawati has been ruling the party since 1993, back when it was still named the Indonesian Democratic Party. She ruled Indonesia for three years, from 2001-2004, and attempted to run for a second term, only to lose to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.