Rhoma Irama, the self-proclaimed king of dangdut, a popular Arab-inspired musical genre, says the groundswell of support behind his presidential bid for next year has hit critical mass and there is no turning back now.
Rhoma, who campaigned for the United Development Party (PPP) in the 2009 general elections, is one of the figures being considered by another Islamic-based party, the National Awakening Party (PKB), as its presidential for 2014.
Rhoma said on Sunday evening that with support from various groups, particularly Islamic clerics, he had accepted the challenge and would begin preparing himself for the job.
“When I began my preparations to become a presidential candidate, I believed I had the capability. I’m now in a position where I can’t withdraw, because of the growing support. This is no longer just an idea, like it previously was,” Rhoma said.
He acknowledged that for all the support behind him, there were still those who were opposed to him running. However, he said this would not dampen his enthusiasm for the challenge.
“You have to take the good with the bad. There is no leader who has gained 100 percent support from his or her people, including Obama. So we just have to respond to things wisely,” he said.
Rhoma denied claims that he was only mounting a presidential bid to boost his public profile. He insisted that he was committed to bringing prosperity to the Indonesian people.
“It is important for a leader to lead for everyone, regardless of whether they support him or not,” Rhoma said.
The PPP says several people have expressed interest in running as the party’s presidential candidate, including Rhoma. But in the singer’s case, members of the party have made it clear that he is not yet fit to become a candidate.
“Rhoma Irama is the guitar-wielding knight,” Hasrul Azwar the PPP chairman at the House of Representatives, said recently as quoted by Inilah.com.
“Everyone is entitled to a chance. But the PPP expects the people who want to become the presidential candidate to be realistic about their own capacity. Am I good enough to become a presidential candidate? Under the law, everyone is entitled to run, but it should be based on propriety and equity.”
Hasrul said the only person who was fit to run for president from the PPP was the party chairman. Suryadharma Ali.
“The reason I say he is fit is because he was once a legislator who chaired a House commission. He was the former chairman for the Indonesia Muslim Students Movements [PMII] and has been a minister twice, making him fit [for a presidential bid],” Hasrul said.
Meanwhile, Marwan Jafar, the PKB chairman at the House, called on his colleagues to cease touting Rhoma as the party’s official candidate, through banners that rebrand the PKB as the “Party of the Guitar-Wielding Knight,” or “ Partai Ksatria Bergitar .” Jakarta Globe