SANGHAR: In an unprecedented upset, the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) lost 10 of the 11 town committees in Saturday’s local government election for the first time in the history of the district, whose population is dominated by followers of Pir Pagara, the spiritual leader of the Hur Jamaat who also heads the party.
The unofficial results of the local government election in district suggested that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) won most of the seats in municipal committees, town committees and union councils with a wide margin and has become in a comfortable position to get its candidates for the chairmen and vice chairmen of the district council, union councils and all but one town municipal committees.
The only municipal committee where PML-F gained its majority is of Sanghar. PPP-backed candidates routed PML-F candidates even in the Shahdadpur and Sinjhoro municipal committees which had never fallen to any other party.
Election for the Tando Adam municipal committee has not been scheduled as yet owing to a delimitation issue.
In six other town committees PPP-backed candidates scored an impressive victory while an equal number of seats were claimed by the PPP and PML-F in Tando Mitha Khan and Jhol town committees.
An independent group led by former MNA Kishanchand Parwani secured majority in the Perumal town committee. PPP-backed candidates for all seats of Kandiaro town committee had already returned unopposed. The election for Khadro town committee gave a split mandate with the PML-F and PPP sharing two wards each and the fifth one going to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
Out of 71 seats of union councils for which polling was held on Saturday, PML-F won 25 seats and lost the rest to the PPP. The election for two union councils are yet to be held.
PPP leader Roshan Junejo’s son Alauddin Junejo and another PPP leader Fida Dero’s nephew Naveed Dero are tipped as favourites for the slot of Sanghar district council chairman.
Mirza group protests ‘rigging’
BADIN: In Badin district where polling for four union councils and two town committees was held on Saturday in a peaceful atmosphere, activists and supporters of PPP’s main rival group led by former home minister Dr Zulfikar Mirza held demonstrations and sit-ins in Badin city, Tando Bago, Talhar, Golarchi and other towns against what they believed “changing of the results”.
A large number of protesters gathered outside the Badin Press Club on Sunday and held a sit-in for five hours raising slogans against “rigging by the PPP”. The suspended the protest in the evening when their leaders announced that it would be resumed on Monday if “fair results are not announced by the next morning”.
Although unofficial results of a few LG institutions were announced on late on Saturday evening, the election officials at most polling stations kept the results secret causing unrest among Mirza group candidates. On Sunday evening, however, Golarchi returning officer declared Syed Salman Shah of the Mirza group victorious on a Badin district council seat with 1,685 votes. He defeated PPP candidate Mohammad Saleem Chang, who is a cousin of MNA Sardar Kamal Khan Chang. The runner up candidate bagged 1,478 votes, according to the unofficial results.
Streets of several towns of Badin district witnessed Dr Mirza’s desperate supporters riding motorcycles and four-wheelers and raising slogans against ECP officials and PPP for delaying the results without assigning any reason.
On Sunday morning the protesting activists in a large number assembled at DC Chowk in Badin city demanding “immediate announcement of the results without resorting to tampering”. Raising slogans against “manipulating the results”, they started a march towards the local press club, where they held a sit-in which continued for five hours.
Speaking to the media Dr Mir Abdullah Talpur, Haji Sher Jamali, Advocate Essa Mallah and others leading the protesters claimed that their group had won all four union councils -- Saeedpur, Pir Ali Bahadar Shah, Dadah and Kario Ghanwar -- but the district returning officer and his subordinates were not released the results.
“After failing to rig the election due to the presence of Rangers personnel who had kept a strict watch on miscreants during the polling process, the PPP and its allies in connivance with the ECP staff are trying to change the results,” they alleged.
In the meantime, local PPP leaders speaking to the media claimed that “the PPP has gained majority in all four UCs and a town committee, besides one ward of the Tando Bago town committee, with a big margin.” Candidates belonging to Dr Mirza group including Ghulam Mustafa Khaskheli, Syed Attaullah Shah and Mohammad Hashim Samoon produced before the media some results in their favour and claimed that a confusion was deliberately being created to “facilitate changing of the results” by pro-PPP elements.
Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2016