Rafizi Ramli has confirmed that he will contest the PKR deputy president’s post in the August party elections.
Should incumbent Azmin Ali choose to defend his position, it would mean that the rivalry between the two, which has been simmering for years, will come to a boil.
Azmin has been tightlipped about his plans amid speculation that he might lock horns with his former boss Anwar Ibrahim for the president’s post.
“I am going to contest the deputy president post […] I’m not interested in any government positions but I still owe it to PKR members not to just walk away (from the party)” Rafizi told Malaysiakini.
The current PKR vice-president said he would be making a formal announcement on the matter this Sunday.
Quizzed on what motivated him to gun for number two, Rafizi described it as a contest between career politicians and reformists in PKR.
“Within PKR there are a substantial number of people like me, who were never in politics or even interested in politics but were awakened because of what happened in 1998 (the reformasi movement).
“I think the contest of ideas between the so-called reformist group and with those who have been politicians all their lives will always be there.
“So I think it is only natural that at the deputy president level, these (differing) ideas are presented,” he said.
The clash between those aligned to either Azmin or Rafizi has dominated PKR politics since 2014 following the “Kajang move” debacle.
The rivalry is expected to be the battleline for most national party positions this year.
The “Kajang move” was a by-election engineered by Rafizi, which was meant to remove then Selangor menteri besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim and replace him with Anwar.
However, an overturned acquittal in Anwar’s Sodomy II case and tension within the Selangor palace saw Azmin taking over the state’s leadership reins instead.
With certain camps in PKR urging Azmin to contest for the top post, the showdown with Rafizi might not materialise.
There is also speculation that external forces who regard Anwar and his band of reformists as a potential threat also want his former political aide to remove him from the equation.
However, one of Azmin’s protégés, Afif Bahardin, is pushing for an Anwar-Azmin team up for the top two positions.
Others have speculated that Anwar preferred Rafizi to be his second-in-command based on his remarks such as when he joked that he would consider making the former Pandan MP deputy prime minister after he becomes prime minister.
Political pundit Faisal Hazis has said that a contest between Azmin and Rafizi would be detrimental for PKR as it would impede efforts to consolidate the party.
Nominations for the PKR elections begin on Aug 5, with polling expected to start at the end of August. – Malaysiakini