SHAH ALAM, Aug 24 — PKR’s Rafizi Ramli drew parallels today between the families of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the prominent Nehru-Gandhi family of India, in a bid to quash accusations of nepotism against his party for selecting the former’s wife as the next Selangor mentri besar.
The newly-elected PKR vice president argued that the Gandhis were never accused of nepotism despite their involvement in India’s politics because they stood for a just cause.
Similarly, he said, Anwar’s family could be viewed in the same light as they too are fighting against “oppression”.
“Should we not learn from the Gandhi family? You cannot accuse them of nepotism because their struggle is for the oppressed and not of the elites.
“So why do you want to blast our (party) president and his family members for their involvement in politics?” Rafizi said in his winding up speech at PKR’s national congress here.
The Nehru-Gandhi family of India is a prominent political dynasty that has been dominant in India’s politics since the republic achieved its independence.
The late Jawaharlal Nehru was India’s first Prime Minister and a key leader of the Indian independence movement under the tutelage of Mahatma Gandhi. The revered leader ruled India since independence from the British in 1947.
His only child Indira Gandhi became one of India’s longest serving prime ministers shortly after her father’s reign.
Anwar’s family members on the other hand, hold top posts in PKR, the leading component party in federal opposition bloc Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
His wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail is the president while his eldest daughter, Nurul Izzah, is a vice president.
Critics said Dr Wan Azizah’s sole nomination for the role of mentri besar have strengthened allegations of nepotism in PKR although the party denied this to be true.
Rafizi noted today that the mounting allegations of nepotism towards PKR originates from the party members themselves, whom he labeled as ignorant and cowards.
“These people seem to believe that they are brave by criticising the party on social media.
“Let me tell you this: in PKR bravery is measured not by how well you criticise the party, but by how strong you fight Umno,” he said, referring to the party’s rivals and Malay lynchpin in Barisan Nasional.
Rafizi said PKR was now at a critical juncture as the party may likely have to face snap polls following strong concerns that embattled Mentri Besar Tan Abdul Sri Khalid Ibrahim may push for the dissolution of the state legislative assembly.
“We must close ranks, we must be prepared.
“Focus on fighting the external foes, not your own party,” he said.
Khalid is expected to seek an audience with the Selangor Sultan tomorrow to discuss his tenuous position as mentri besar, following his loss of confidence from the majority of lawmakers in the state assembly.
Of the 56 Selangor seats, Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) PKR, DAP and PAS now have control of 43, including PAS’s and DAP’s 15 each and PKR’s 13.
Umno has 12 seats, while Khalid is the only independent in the House. The leader has remained partyless since his recent sacking from PKR over his refusal to relinquish his MB seat, and is now leading a government made up only of PAS members.
He has so far resisted all attempts by PKR to remove him from the post. Even after his August 9 sacking, Khalid stayed on as MB, relying on the Selangor Sultan’s blessings.
He also removed all PKR lawmakers from the state executive council, as well those from the DAP, who have stood with PKR throughout the crisis.
The remaining PAS four lawmakers in Khalid’s exco line-up were spared the cull as they had at the time said they would continue to serve under the mentri besar until and unless their party leadership decided otherwise.
Since then, however, PAS has decided to stay on the side of its PR allies in the ongoing crisis, despite refusing to endorse PKR’s Dr Wan Azizah as Khalid’s replacement.
With that, Khalid lost the majority backing of the House and said he would discuss the matter with the Selangor Sultan upon the latter’s return from overseas.
But instead of stepping down tomorrow, talk is that Khalid is considering the possibility of seeking royal consent for the dissolution of the Selangor assembly, which would pave the way for statewide polls.
* A previous version of this article incorrectly quoted Rafizi referring to Indian nationalist Mahatma Gandhi instead of the Nehru-Gandhi family. The error is regretted.