PKR polls: Of Rafizi's fame and Nurul Izzah's support

KHAIRIL ANWAR MOHD AMIN Mohd Faizul Haika Mat Khazi
10 May 2022 02:58pm
Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail and Rafizi Ramli are both competing for the PKR's deputy president’s post in the internal party election.
Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail and Rafizi Ramli are both competing for the PKR's deputy president’s post in the internal party election.

SHAH ALAM – When former Pandan MP announced that he would be making a comeback to the political arena after more than two years of break, political analysts had mixed feelings about the decision.

On top of that, his decision to contest for PKR's deputy president's position for the term 2022 – 2025 came as shocking, with many perceiving his comeback at the eleventh hour as too late since the 15th General Election was fast approaching.

However, several political watchdogs were optimistic, describing Rafizi's return with another PKR's influential political figure, Nurul Izzah Anwar would strengthen PKR and Pakatan Harapan (PH) by breathing fresh air to the opposition coalition which had suffered defeats in several elections.

Despite Rafizi's popularity among the 1.3 million PKR grassroots, claims arose that he did not receive support from the party's leadership, who were inclined to be loyal to PKR President Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The scenario was different from his battle against former PKR's Deputy President Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali during PKR's previous election for the term 2018-2021, where Rafizi had received full support from Anwar but he ended up losing.

Rafizi's sudden decision to take a break from his post at that time while the party was facing internal struggles right after Azmin's betrayal left lasting marks on several PKR's grassroots.

Meanwhile, Saifuddin received positive responses when he reportedly received support from the majority up to PKR's leadership, including Azmin's ex-supporters such as Selangor MB Datuk Seri Amiruddin Shaari and former vice president of PKR Tian Chua.

Apart from that, Rafizi's refusal to accept PKR's proposal to accept the opposition's 'big tent' idea would include Perikatan Nasional (PN) and Parti Pejuang Tanahair (Pejuang) led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad further pushed him away from the approval of PKR’s main leaderships.

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Although Rafizi was perceived as an underdog candidate and had gone through a lot to succeed in the PKR leadership's transformation agenda, the chances of him winning the Deputy President post could not be set aside.

After all, he was seen as transparent when he revealed the cause behind PH's declining performance after the 'Sheraton move’ and his admittance that PKR and PH were losing the support of on-the-fence voters.

They also felt that the political narrative brought by Rafizi and Nurul Izzah's camps which wanted the party to return to its fundamental movement to champion the public's suffering instead of focusing on the agenda to take over Putrajaya was more relevant and grounded.

Even more radical was that some PKR supporters saw current PKR leaders including Anwar should be replaced by youth leaders who were more aggressive and pragmatic such as Rafizi and Nurul Izzah.

The question remained if Rafizi could surprise everyone and marks a new political chapter for PKR?