Dio Suhenda, Jakarta – As the official campaign period for the 2024 presidential election kicked off on Tuesday, two of the three candidate pairs hit the trail, with presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo and his running mate Mahfud MD starting their campaign at the geographical extremes of the country, while presidential candidate Anies Baswedan and running mate Muhaimin Iskandar began in places closer to the core of state power.
The third presidential candidate and front-runner in the race, Prabowo Subianto, and his running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka will start campaigning on Friday. They said they had chosen to spend the first few days of the campaign season attending to their tasks as defense minister and mayor of Surakarta, respectively.
Nearly 205 million people are eligible to vote on Feb. 14, with the winner set to succeed President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo after he ends a decade in power.
Opposition figurehead and former Jakarta governor Anies launched his campaign in Jakarta, starting with the densely populated and impoverished neighborhood of Tanah Merah in North Jakarta.
Tanah Merah, whose residents have been involved in protracted land rights disputes, was also where Anies, whose campaign platform focuses on equitable economic growth, kicked off his 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial campaign.
"Let's push for change [...]. Please pray for our journey to be blessed with ease," Anies told a crowd in the neighborhood, AFP reported.
From there, Anies was expected to travel to Kramat Jati in East Jakarta and on to Bogor, West Java, outside Jakarta. He was to end his first day of campaigning at discussion on sustainable energy in South Jakarta.
Anies' running mate Muhaimin kicked off his part of the campaign in Surabaya, the capital of the country's second-most populous province of East Java and a stronghold of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the country's largest Muslim organization.
Muhaimin's National Awakening Party (PKB) enjoys strong support in East Java and has the second-most seats in the provincial legislative council, behind only the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which is backing party member Ganjar for president. Surabaya was also where Anies and Muhaimin officially declared their 2024 candidacy.
Ganjar of the PDI-P and his running mate Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud, on the other hand, started their campaign at polar opposites of the country.
Ganjar arrived in South Papua's Merauke – the country's easternmost point – on Tuesday morning. He was expected to meet with residents across the region and hold audiences with local religious figures and young voters.
Mahfud, meanwhile, kicked off his campaign in Sabang, Aceh – the country's westernmost point – where he was also to meet with local figures, before flying back to Jakarta later in the day.
While the third candidate pair, Gerindra Party patron Prabowo and Gibran, did not hit the campaign trail on Tuesday, their campaign team distributed free milk and lunches to children in nine places across the country. The pair are campaigning for the state to provide free lunches and milk at school.