Jakarta. Former Vice President Jusuf Kalla on Saturday criticized President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo for getting involved in politics too deeply ahead of the elections in a rare rebuke to his former boss.
Kalla, who served as Jokowi’s right hand from 2014-19, responded to a meeting between the president and six political party leaders at the presidential palace earlier this week.
The former vice president was critical of the meeting because Jokowi didn’t invite National Democratic Party (Nasdem) Chairman Surya Paloh who has become a close ally of the president since the start of his first presidential term.
According to Kalla, the exclusion of Nasdem indicated that the meeting discussed political strategies for the 2024 elections. The party has formally declared former Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, widely considered an opposition figure to Jokowi, as its presidential candidate.
“It’s not the first time [Nasdem] was left out. If the meeting discussed development programs as in normal discussions taking place in the palace, Nasdem should have been included. Otherwise, the meeting was all about politics,” Kalla told reporters at his residence in Jakarta.
According to him, such a meeting should have never taken place because Jokowi is the head of state who must put national interests above partisan politics.
“In my opinion, the president should learn from Madame Megawati [Soekarnoputri] and SBY [Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono] who refrained from getting deeply involved [in politics] when their term neared completion,” Kalla said of Jokowi’s predecessors.
Earlier on Thursday, the president said that the government and Nasdem have parted ways.
“Nasdem, let’s say what it is, has belonged to its own coalition,” the president told reporters during a visit to Sarinah shopping mall in Central Jakarta.
Jokowi said Tuesday’s meeting with party leaders was meant to strengthen “political cooperation” in the government coalition and Nasdem, now an outsider, has no rights to know firsthand about the coalition’s strategy.
“The gathering by those parties sought to establish sound political cooperation and common ground on our grand strategy,” he said.
The president also responded to critics who accused him of violating his duty as the head of state by meddling in political affairs that should be in the domain of political parties.
“I’m both a public official and a political figure. That means I’m allowed to talk about politics, aren’t I? I can talk about that matter because it’s also part of the president’s job,” he said.
Source: Jakarta Globe