June 28, 2023
JAKARTA – Two presumptive presidential candidates Ganjar Pranowo and Anies Baswedan have bumped into each other while on a lunch break during the haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
As the potential rivals took a break from politicking to go on this year’s haj, their respective electoral alliances continue to debate internally who will fill the vice-presidential slots.
The meet-up between the two candidates was revealed in a photo that has spread on social media, with the two figures accompanied by their respective families. United Development Party (PPP) politician Suharso Monoarfa, who was also present in the photo, said that the gathering was unplanned.
“I was just happy to see they were sitting close and being friendly, and I didn’t want to lose this historical moment,” Suharso said on Tuesday, as reported by Kompas.com. “They replied that they’ve been friends since attending the Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta and even laughed as they said they were okay with taking a photo together.”
Anies, who has the backing of the opposition-leaning Coalition for Change and Unity (KPP), has often been portrayed as having an adversarial relationship with the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). The ruling party backed President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in the last two elections and which has nominated Ganjar as his presumptive successor for 2024.
Democratic Party spokesman Herzaky Mahendra Putra, one of the three parties that make up the KPP, welcomed the meeting between Ganjar and Anies. “This is a reminder that even if our [political] choices differ, there’s no reason for us to be antagonistic and close all communication,” Herzaky said in a written statement.
The Democratic Party, which has had a chilly relationship with the PDI-P since 2004, recently showed signs of warming ties with the ruling party. Chairman Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono met with PDI-P executive Puan Maharani last week, with both Puan and Agus declaring their hopes of further continued correspondence between the two erstwhile opposing parties.
The PDI-P and KPP member NasDem also expressed similar sentiments regarding the meeting between Ganjar and Anies. “Hopefully, the meeting will encourage supporters of the two candidates to follow suit,” NasDem acting secretary-general Hermawi Taslim said on Tuesday, as reported by Tempo.co.
While Anies and Ganjar enjoyed a momentary reprieve from domestic politics, internal debates within their respective alliance on running mates, however, continue to heat up. From Ganjar’s camp, the PPP and Perindo Party have begun to campaign for their candidates, with the PPP rallying behind Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno, who joined the party recently.
Meanwhile, Perindo has put forward the name of former West Nusa Tenggara governor Muhammad Zainul Majdi, popularly known by his honorary title Tuan Guru Bajang (TGB). A respected Islamic scholar, TGB is currently the chairman of Lombok-based Muslim organization Nahdlatul Wathan and was at one point in the running to be President Jokowi’s running mate in 2019.
While initially there was speculation that Anies would name his running mate before leaving for the haj last week, the former Jakarta governor has kept mum. The Democrats remain adamant in their support for chairman Agus, and shot back against the NasDem suggestion of Yenny Wahid, daughter of former president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid, as a potential vice-presidential candidate last week.
Since NasDem, the Democratic Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) formed the KPP in March, the coalition has been at loggerheads over Anies’ running mate. The three parties eventually decided to hand the final say to Anies, who has reportedly settled on a name and is waiting for the right moment to reveal his decision.