Anies Baswedan sworn in as new Jakarta governor

Academic and former education minister Anies Baswedan (L) shakes hands with Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the Presidential palace after his inauguration in Jakarta on Monday, nearly six months after decisively beating the capital's incumbent governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. (AFP)
Updated 17 October 2017
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Anies Baswedan sworn in as new Jakarta governor

JAKARTA: Former Education Minister Anies Baswedan and businessman-turned-politician Sandiaga Uno were sworn in Monday as the new governor and deputy governor of Jakarta at a ceremony held by President Joko Widodo at the State Palace.
Baswedan and Uno will lead the capital of Southeast Asia’s largest economy and manage an annual city budget of roughly 70 trillion Indonesian rupiah ($5.192 billion) for the next five years.
The pair won a 57.96 percent mandate out of a total of 5,591,353 votes, defeating then-incumbent governor Basuki TjaHajja Purnama and his deputy Djarot Saiful Hidayat who gained 42.04 percent of the votes.
“The governor of Jakarta is a governor for all, for those who voted (for me) and those who didn’t vote,” Baswedan told journalists after the ceremony which was broadcast live on national television.
Hidayat later became governor following Purnama’s blasphemy conviction in May. The two-year prison sentence came after Purnama, who is a Christian of Chinese descent, was accused of insulting the Qur’an.
Purnama’s statement triggered a string of mass rallies, involving protesters from other cities calling for his prosecution and a rising wave of refusal to have a non-Muslim leader for a population of some 12 million in the Indonesian capital.
The election turned out to be very polarizing and by far the most religiously charged in Indonesia, pitting a Muslim candidate against a double minority incumbent.
Purnama was deputy for Widodo when the latter was elected governor in 2012 and he inherited the gubernatorial post from Widodo who was elected president in 2014.
“We can’t wait to get to work right away. We have been waiting for six months. Insha Allah, Jakarta will be better,” Baswedan said in his first official speech as governor after a handover ceremony at the city hall during which his predecessor Hidayat was away on holiday in Labuan Bajon in eastern Indonesia.
Both men will have to work hard to meet their 23 campaign promises which include zero down payment for housing schemes and entrepreneurial programs to create 200,000 new jobs.
Yayat Supriyatna, an urban planning expert from Trisakti University in Jakarta, said other pressing challenges for the new leaders were classic Jakarta problems — eviction, traffic gridlock and floods. These problems continue to tarnish Jakarta’s reputation as the diplomatic capital of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with more foreign embassies establishing separate diplomatic missions to the regional bloc.
“We have various masterplans to address those problems; what remains to be seen is their execution,” Supriyatna told Arab News.
Both Baswedan and Uno are known as moderate Muslims.


India’s Modi stares at biggest election loss since coming to power

Updated 35 min 31 sec ago
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India’s Modi stares at biggest election loss since coming to power

  • Analysts say a big loss for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party would signify rural dismay and help unite the opposition
  • Poll analysts cautioned that with the counting in preliminary stages, it was still too early to predict the outcome of state races involving millions of voters

NEW DELHI: India’s ruling party could lose power in three key states, four TV networks said on Tuesday, citing votecount leads, potentially handing Prime Minister Narendra Modi his biggest defeat since he took office in 2014, and months ahead of a general election.
The main opposition Congress party could form governments in the central states of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, and in the western state of Rajasthan, all big heartland states that powered Modi to a landslide win in the 2014 general election.
Analysts say a big loss for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party would signify rural dismay and help unite the opposition, despite his high personal popularity in the face of criticism that he did not deliver on promises of jobs for young people and better conditions for farmers.
“We’ve all voted for Congress this time and our candidate is winning here,” said Bishnu Prasad Jalodia, a wheat grower in Madhya Pradesh, where it appears as if Congress might have to woo smaller parties to keep out Modi’s party.
“BJP ignored us farmers, they ignored those of us at the bottom of the pyramid.”
The elections are also a test for Rahul Gandhi, president of the left-of-center Congress, who is trying to forge a broad alliance with regional groups and face Modi with his most serious challenge yet, in the election that must be held by May.
In Rajasthan, the Congress was leading in 114 of the 199 seats contested, against 81 for the BJP, in the initial round of voting, India Today TV said.
In Chhattisgarh, the Congress was ahead in 59 of the 90 seats at stake, with the BJP at 24. In Madhya Pradesh, the most important of the five states that held assembly elections over the past few weeks, Congress was ahead, with 112 of 230 seats. The Hindu nationalist BJP was at 103, the network said.
Three other TV channels also said Congress was leading in the three states, with regional parties leading in two smaller states that also voted, Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast.
Poll analysts cautioned that with the counting in preliminary stages, it was still too early to predict the outcome of state races involving millions of voters.
Local issues usually dominate state polls, but politicians are seeing the elections as a pointer to the national vote just months away.
Indian markets recovered some ground after an early fall as the central bank governor’s unexpected resignation the previous day shocked investors.
The rupee currency dropped as much as 1.5 percent to 72.465 per dollar, while bond yields rose 12 basis points to 7.71 percent after the resignation of Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel.
The broader NSE share index was down 1.3 percent, with investors cautious ahead of the election results.
“As the three erstwhile BJP states have a large agrarian population, the BJP’s drubbing could be interpreted to mean that farm unrest is real,” Nomura said in a research note before the results.
“A rout of the BJP on its homeground states should encourage cohesion among the opposition parties to strengthen the non-BJP coalition for the general elections.”
Gandhi, the fourth generation scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, has sought to build a coalition of regional groups, some headed by experienced firebrand, ambitious politicians.
Congress has already said it would not name Gandhi, who is seen as lacking experience, as a prime ministerial candidate.
“When one and one become eleven, even the mighty can be dethroned,” opposition leader Akhilesh Yadav said of the prospect of growing opposition unity.