BADIN: The top Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leadership had a hectic day on Monday as it prepared for the most crucial election rally by party chairman, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s visit to Badin, which has become a political battlefield with the rival Arbab group and another anti-PPP force led by former home minister Zulfikar Ali Mirza employing all available resources to rout the PPP in this district.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari is set to visit Badin and Golarchi on Tuesday to address rallies ahead of the Nov 19 local government elections in the district.

MNA Faryal Talpur, who is said to be in command of the PPP’s administrative affairs, arrived in Badin on Sunday night while a number of key party leaders, including ministers, MNAs and MPAs, followed her to make preparations for the rally and public meetings to be addressed by the party chairman.

MNA Talpur chaired a meeting of senior party colleagues and candidates at Chang House, the residence of MNA Sardar Kamal Chang, to review the arrangements.

She was reported to have exhorted the participants to ensure defeat of Dr Mirza and his associates at any cost.

She also held separate meetings with Home Minister Suhail Anwer Sial, Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Ali Shah, Deputy Speaker of the Sindh Assembly Shehla Raza and many other PPP ministers and lawmakers to discuss a strategy to counter the anti-PPP forces in this district.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Senators Maula Bukhsh Chandio, Aajiz Dhamrah and Dr Karim Khowaja, MNA Sardar Kamal Chang and other party leaders said that Mr Bhutto-Zardari would be accorded an enthusiastic welcome in Badin.

“He is scheduled to arrive in Golarchi by helicopter and after delivering a short speech there, he will travel to Badin in a caravan of PPP leaders, workers and supporters,” they said. He would also address a public meeting in Badin, they added.

Senator Chandio said Mr Bhutto-Zardari was the consensus party chief and any one casting any doubt over it was actually opposing him. “[Slain PPP co-chairperson] Benazir Bhutto had in her will clearly mentioned Bilawal as the next party chairman,” he claimed.

He said those who were issuing threats were living in a fool’s paradise.

Sardar Chang, speaking to Dawn, said that Ms Talpur was satisfied with the arrangements made for Mr Bhutto-Zardari’s visit.

Mirzas continue electioneering

Estranged PPP leader and former home minister Dr Zulfikar Mirza and his spouse MNA Fehmida Mirza, former speaker of the National Assembly, continued with their public contacts ahead of the second phase of the LG elections.

Dr [Zulfikar] Mirza addressed several public meetings in Tando Bago and other areas of the district on Sunday evening and Monday continuing with his hard-hitting attacks on PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and accusing him and his close associates within the party of being involved in treacherous activities, heinous crimes including murders, extortion, land-grabbing and plunder of the national exchequer.

He claimed that the PPP was bent upon stealing public mandate, and warned of dire consequences if the LG elections were rigged.

Dr Mirza expressed his pleasure over Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s visit to Badin and said: “I have made it clear time and again that my fight is against Asif Zardari and his corrupt cronies.”

Dr Fehmida Mirza, speaking to the media, said she was not campaigning against the PPP but was pleading the case of all those PPP workers who were angry at the party leadership and contesting the elections as independent candidates. “I am highlighting their feelings and pin-pointing and agitating selection of wrong candidates in the allotment of party tickets,” she added.

When she was asked if she would go to welcome Mr Bhutto-Zardari on his arrival, she said she could consider it but would decide on her own.

Earlier, Dr [Fehmida] Mirza along with a number of her supporters went to the office of the district returning officer to complain about a delay in the restoration of certain polling stations’ original venues as ordered by the election commission. She said she would move court if the EC order was not complied with timely.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2015

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