Budi Sutrisno, Jakarta – Having lost to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's ticket in the 2019 presidential election, businessman and Gerindra Party politician Sandiaga Uno surprised and angered his supporters when he joined a group of the President's supporters to distribute aid near the Bantar Gebang landfill in Bekasi, West Java, on Saturday.
Those who supported Sandiaga and Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto in last year's presidential election took to Twitter to criticize Sandiaga's choice to help the group, called Jokowi Mania, distribute COVID-19 aid. The hashtag #GoodbyeSandiagaUno trended on Twitter on Monday.
"I [thought you were] different, but it turns out you are the same. Goodbye, bro! If you became a candidate again, I am very sure I [would] not [be] with you again," tweeted @AzzamIzzulhaq on Sunday afternoon.
"Immanuel Ebenezer insulted [the Islamist] 212 rally reunion, disrespected clerics and slandered [Jakarta Governor] Anies Baswedan [...] And now @sandiuno [is] with him?" said @BERuan9_QuTuB.
Immanuel Ebenezer was the chairman of the Jokowi Mania volunteer group in the 2019 presidential election. In February 2019, at the peak of the presidential campaign, Immanuel was condemned for calling the 212 rally "a group of money servants" during a talk show.
Sandiaga, who was a successful venture capital entrepreneur, began his political career when he ran in and won the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election with Anies and became Jakarta deputy governor. He later resigned from the position to run in the presidential race.
Despite a bitterly contested election that was marred by sectarian sentiments, the Gerindra Party chose to join the government when the election was over. Prabowo now serves as defense minister. He and Gerindra have also experienced a strong backlash from their supporters.
Sandiaga said his choice to volunteer with Jokowi's team was simply to provide humanitarian assistance at the grassroots level. He said everyone should join together to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.
"When there is a pandemic, everyone must unite. There should be no color or political alignments. Jo-Man [Jokowi Mania] and I agree that our enemy is COVID-19. Let's fight it by following the government's words," said Sandiaga, as quoted by tribunnews.com.
Sandiaga and other volunteers distributed staple food packages to 300,000 families in Bantar Gebang, which had reportedly received little attention during the pandemic.
"Together with Pak Sandiaga, we want to pay attention to the Bantar Gebang residents affected by COVID-19. They are almost untouched by [the government] here," said Immanuel.