Pernyataan dukungan salah satu pesantren di Jawa Timur. Foto | Abdus Somad (

East Java is the second largest vote bases with 30.9 million Permanent Voters List (DPT) in 2019 presidential election. As a basis for Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) religious leaders play an important role in influencing the political choices of society. Covered by the same flag, the Kyai have different images about the candidate pair (Candidate Pair) number 01 and 02. The narrative about the religious identity of the two candidates was developed.

Intonation of Kyai Haji Ilyas Siraj suddenly rose. The caretaker of Nurul Islam Islamic Boarding School, Sumenep Regency, East Java did not accept being accused of using Islamic-based hate narratives addressed to boost the votes of Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno in the 2019 Presidential Election.

He returned to mention a row of accusations which he said were addressed by supporters of Joko Widodo-Ma’aruf Amin on his side. Starting from the Wahabi label to partiality on Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI).

“The Wahabi issue is so strong to us, if Prabowo wins Wahabi will take control, then it will be considered as a hard stream,” he said inflamed when met by, Sunday, May 5 2019.

Ilyas emphasized that the issue of religion influenced many people’s choices on Madura Island in the 2019 Presidential Election. As an NU base, this was unavoidable. Ijtima Ulama

II, which directs support to the Prabowo-Sandi pair, becomes another consideration.

“Sumenep is the majority area of NU. The PCNU is very strong. Anyone who comes here is accepted, but still vote for 02, “he said.

Based on the results of the General Election Commission’s (KPU) vote count at May 21, 2019 at 23:54, the Prabowo-Sandi pair earned 436,196 votes or around 64.27 percent in Sumenep Regency, Madura. A quarter of Candidate Pair 02’s vote on Garam Island came from there.

One of the reasons for Jokowi’s absence in Madura, said Ilyas, is a popular figure who does not fit the Image of leaders in the heads of many voters. According to him, “The issue of

populist leaders is not consumed in Madura”. Ma’aruf’s figure as an NU Ulema also has little influence.

“NU is NU. Ma’aruf is NU, but Madurese who don’t lose their critical power still choose Prabowo,” he added.

Kyai Haji Ilyas Siraj. | Foto: Abdus Somad (

As with Prabowo, who was considered by Ilyas as a firm and authoritative figure. He considered these two things more suitable with the Image leader at the head of the Madurese community.

K.H. Taufik Hasyim, Chairperson of the Pamekasan Tanfidziyah NU Branch Management (PCNU), said Pamekasan had a different NU culture so that Prabowo-Sandi succeeded in gaining votes in the area.

In addition, a series of claims claimed to form a negative picture of the Jokowi-Ma’aruf pair. One of them is the accomplices of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

“That goes into the community. Jokowi is considered heretical, infidel, and liberal. From there, the issue of Islamic defense in Madura was raised, “he told, Sunday, May 5, 2019.

The PKI issue was considered to still make an impression on the collective memory of the Madurese community so that it was easily mobilized to reap support. Prabowo-Sandi’s success gained 521,391 votes or 83.78 percent in Pamekasan Regency, he continued, not separated from the kafir label and various other negative designations attached to Jokowi’s figure.

“There is at least one Kyai (who mentions) the law is forbidden to choose Pak Jokowi. It means that the sunnah law can become an infidel, “said Taufik.


Ari (31), a resident of Pakandangan, Sumenep, East Java, often found information about the two candidate pairs going back and forth in the instant messaging application conversation group. The issue is not far from Islam and anti-Islam.

“The PKI issue is indeed rolling. There are also issues of anti-Islam and radical Islam, “he told, Sunday, May 5, 2019.

At first the conversation group was sterile from political discussion. The high tension ahead of the 2019 presidential election made him flooded with information about the two Candidate Pair.

“Since the group (red-conversation) has shifted to the realm of practical politics, it doesn’t educate, I leave the group. There is hoax information that is distributed in the group,” he explained.

He added, social media is often the upstream of various confusing information circulating in the conversation group. A social media group titled Sumenep Baru is shown to

The number of members in the group made 6 years ago exceeded 75 thousand. There are at least 10,000 content uploaded last month, or more than 300 content uploaded in this group every day. Interestingly, the New Sumenep did not have a preference for certain Candidate Pair. Information battlefield was formed.

Ahead of the 2019 Presidential Election, the content concerning Jokowi’s relationship and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) with the PKI was scattered. The form starts from writing, to photo editing.

Conversely, the Wahabi issue was also developed to attack Prabowo-Sandi couples. Various memes and links to certain sites are uploaded. One of them goes to the site

One of the uploads dated April 8, 2019 on the site was called “NU Golput Residents, Wahabi Ruling.” The article cites K.H’s statement. Marzuqi Mustamar who encouraged NU followers not to vote for the presidential and vice presidential candidates supported by the Wahabi group.

The Chairperson of the Sabilurrosyad, Gasek, Malang, East Java Islamic Boarding School also said that he was not willing to take part in the actions of Sandiaga Uno who used the NU flag while conducting the campaign.

Imaduddin (29), Management Member of Pemuda Ansor Sumenep Branch, East Java, said the community had difficulty in sorting information in the midst of low literacy. When the truth is difficult to ascertain, the words of the religious leader become a reference.

“They don’t know it’s true or false, which is clearly the Kyai’s order,” he said while showing messages spread through WhatsApp conversation groups.

The messages, he added, were not only circulating in cyberspace, but also spread by religious leaders through various recitations.

“When speaking baraka, the Kyai speech is very blessed,” Imaduddin added.


Muhammad Al-Fayyadl, Teacher of the Nurul Jadid Islamic Boarding School, Paiton, Probolinggo, East Java, highlighted several things that were the basis of differences in political choice among NU followers. The 212 action that began three years ago was considered to be one of the contributing factors.

“There were quite a lot of 212 Actions in Madura and Pantura. Many from East Java depart. They have Islamic sentiments feeling closer to Prabowo, “he explained when contacted by, Saturday, May 11, 2019.

The graduate of Universite Paris-8, France also mentioned that many Kyai were consumed by the PKI issue addressed to Jokowi’s figure. That happens a lot in the Horseshoe area.

Based on th results of the General Election Commission (KPU) vote count on May 21, 2019, areas called Al-Fayyadl did indeed become a voice barn 02. In Situbondo, 50.14 percent of the votes or around 203,949 voters were obtained by Prabowo-Sandi, while in Pacitan the percentage reached more than 66 percent, equivalent to 230,623 votes.

In Madura Island, the votes of Candidate Pair 02 even touched 67.25 percent. Of the four districts / cities on the island, Jokowi-Ma’aruf only won in Bangkalan Regency.

The vote was a non-uniform picture of the narrative among NU followers.  In some regions, Prabowo is considered to reflect the Islam expected by NU East Java. On the contrary, the figure of Ma’aruf is considered not a Kyai who is coveted to be a Muslim leader.

However, differences in choice are not merely driven by various narratives surrounding Islamic identity. Structural issues in NU’s body is also a matter.

“There is dissatisfaction with NU. There is also the view that Ma’aruf was appointed not by the agreement of the ulama. That’s the result of lobbying by politicians in Jakarta, not later born of lower aspirations (community-red), “he explained.


Secretary of the Jokowi-Ma’aruf East Java Winning Team Sri Untari said that Jokowi’s victory in East Java was inseparable from the strength of Nationalism represented by PDIP and the religion represented by NU. He dismissed the assumption of the thick question of the aroma of Islam-based identity politics in East Java during the 2019 Presidential Election.

“The answer to identity politics is the love of the nation and state with the basis of Pancasila. So, there is no identity politics,” he said when contacted by via telephone, Friday 3 May 2019.

Ahmad Zainul Hamdi, political observer at the State Islamic University of Sunan Ampel (UINSA) Surabaya has a different view. According to him, differences in political support among NUs indicate the effectiveness of the use of religious issues in identity politics.

“They could be ritualically the same as NU. The prayers are always the same, but they have their own socio-political Imagenation. The board of FPI (Islamic Defenders Front) in Madura is the NU Kyai, “he said when met by in his office on Friday, May 3, 2019.

Hamdi assessed that the exploitation of identity politics in the 2019 election was very dirty. Because the various things that are private are made public issues.

He fears that the exploitation of identity politics will continually make voters not clear about the situation. Not to mention, a patronage system that makes people just follow the leader’s words without being able to criticize.

“All can be insane to see humans. Indonesia can be considered as non-existent, there is an army of demons and forces of God. There is nothing else but to win or win in total. That is very evil in my opinion, “he concluded. (Abdus Somad)

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