Mahfud emerges as serious contender for Ganjar VP

The comments came after PDI-P matriarch Megawati quashed speculation that the party was considering a merger with the Gerindra Party-led alliance, and pairing Ganjar and Gerindra presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto.

Nur Janti

Nur Janti

The Jakarta Post


An officer from the General Elections Commission (KPU) introduces five different ballots at the KPU building in Central Jakarta in 2018. PHOTO: THE JAKARTA POST

October 10, 2023

JAKARTA – A recent picture showing presumptive presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo sitting beside Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD has fueled speculation that the two could run as a pair in next year’s election.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has yet to name a running mate for Ganjar, but a party member hinted that Mahfud had emerged as a top candidate under the party’s consideration.

“Everything is still in process. Currently, support for Mahfud is growing, but this doesn’t mean that other potential names don’t have a chance,” PDI-P politician Deddy Yevry Sitorus said.

Ibu Megawati is still communicating with leaders of political parties [in Ganjar’s camp]”, he added, referring to PDI-P matriarch Megawati Soekarnoputri.

The comments came after Megawati quashed speculation that the party was considering a merger with the Gerindra Party-led alliance and pairing Ganjar and Gerindra presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto on a single ticket.

Mahfud has several times of late been in close contact with PDI-P politicians. In September, Ganjar and Mahfud had an evening coffee together, and the former posted the picture on his Instagram account.

Mahfud said last week that he had met Megawati recently but that they had only discussed the country’s ideology. He said the PDI-P matriarch had not offered him the VP spot on the party’s presidential ticket.

Read also: Megawati calls for resolute fight amid attempt to derail Ganjar’s presidential bid

At the wedding of the son of PPP sharia council chairman Mustofa Aqil Siradj in Cirebon, West Java, on Sunday, Ganjar was seen sitting beside the senior minister and Romy. The moment was captured in a photograph sent by Romy to The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

Another picture showed Romy, Ganjar, Mahfud and Said Aqil Siradj, a former chairman of Indonesia’s largest Islamic mass organization, Nadhlatul Ulama (NU), standing together near the wedding aisle.

Absent from the scenes was PPP politician Sandiaga, whom the PPP has insisted be nominated as Ganjar’s running mate, raising speculation that the nation’s largest Islam-based party has shifted its support from Sandiaga to Mahfud.

But Romy said Sandiaga had, in fact, attended the wedding and had failed to appear in a picture with Ganjar because the tourism minister had arrived late to the event.

Romy insisted that the PPP would not back down from pushing for Sandiaga to be made Ganjar’s running mate.

He said that on the sidelines of the Sunday event, he had discussed with Ganjar what kind of figure could complement him in next year’s race.

The PPP is the only party in the House of Representatives that has partnered with the PDI-P. It and the Hanura and Perindo parties, which are not represented in the legislature, make up the four-way alliance backing Ganjar’s presidential bid.

Last month, PDI-P secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto said Ganjar’s running mate could be “Mr. X” or “Mrs. X”, which analysts believed referred to Mahfud and East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa.

Read also: Presidential contenders jostle for support in East Java

Mahfud is seen as closely tied to NU, though he is not a card-carrying member, while Khofifah is the executive of Muslimat NU, an NU women’s wing organization.

Megawati is widely thought to be considering pairing Ganjar with an NU figure to gain the Muslim bloc’s vote, a strategy some analysts believe was crucial to Jokowi’s reelection in 2019.

Ganjar and his two likely rivals for the presidency – Prabowo and Anies Baswedan – recently visited East Java, where they met with important figures and grassroots volunteers in a bid to win over voters in the country’s second-most populous province.

East Java is considered a battleground province in the lead-up to the February 2024 polls, and NU has significant sway there.

National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) political analyst Wasisto Raharjo Jati said politicians had been going from one meeting to another simply to explore all possible options.

“But the decision depends on the coalition,” he said, as well as how the VP choice would serve political parties in 2024.

PPP acting chairman Muhamad Mardiono said on Sunday that leaders of the political parties in Ganjar’s camp would soon hold a meeting to discuss who his VP candidate would be and what strategy they would employ in the upcoming presidential election, reported. (ipa)

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