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BADIN: Pakistan Peoples Party clinched three of the four union councils and eight of the 18 wards where polling was held on Saturday, according to unofficial results declared with a delay of a day and a half.

By defeating the rival group led by former home minister Dr Zulfikar Mirza, the PPP strengthened it’s overall position in the district’s local government election.

The recently-elected councillors belonging to the Mirza group on Monday along with their supporters continued to hold protests in several towns of the district for a second consecutive day on Monday against what they alleged ‘post-polling rigging” by the PPP.

Dr Mirza, along with his son, Mohammad Hassam Mirza, also led a rally taken out in Badin and proceeded to the DRO office at the deputy commissioner’s office to register their protest. They later held a demonstration outside the local press club.

Addressing the participants, they rejected the results and accused DRO Rafique Ahmed Quraishi and other election officials of changing the vote count “on the directions of [PPP co-chairman] Asif Ali Zardari, [his sister] MNA Faryal Talpur, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and other senior party leaders”.

Charged activists and supporters of the Mirza group in large numbers also arrived in Badin from other parts of the district to join in the main rally. Raising slogans against the PPP and election officials, the participants held a sit-in on Karachi-Badin road which continued for more than five hours.

Haji Mukhtiar Ahmed Pitafi, Dr Abdullah Talpur and others who spoke to the participants, said that the results had already been finalised on Saturday night and they had finalised the programme to celebrate the group’s victory and register a protest against the election staff for delaying the release of the results. “However, the results were found altered when announced on Monday,” they alleged.

They claimed that their group had won all four UCs and most wards of the two town committees.

In his speech, Dr Mirza announced that he along with his supporters would lay a siege to the DRO office on Tuesday. Earlier, an official of the election commission, Samad Khan, released the unofficial results of the four UCs and two town committees for which polling was held on Saturday.

He declared Abdul Qadir Dalwani, Mir Noor Ahmed Talpur and Rasool Bux Arain of the Pakistan Peoples Party winners of Pir Ali Bahadar Shah, Saeedpur and Dadah UCs, respectively.

According to the results, Syed Salman Shah of the PML-N (1,678 votes) defeated his PPP rival, Saleem Chang (1,485 votes) in the contest on Kario Ghanwar seat; Rasool Bux Arain of the PPP (1,891 votes) defeated Syed Ataullah Shah (1,871 votes) to win the Dadah seat, and Abdul Qadir Dalwani of the PPP (2,553 votes) beat Ghulam Mustafa Khaskheli (2,526 votes) in the contest for Pir Ali Bahadar Shah seat.

The Saeedpur seat was claimed by Noor Ahmed Talpur of the PPP (2,275 votes) by defeating Mohammad Hashim Samoon (2,007 votes).

A senior PPP leader and the recently-elected member of the Badin district council, Haji Sain Bux Jamali, addressed a press conference at Jamali House in Tando Bago on Monday evening to respond to the Mirza group’s allegation of rigging.

He said that the PPP defeated his rivals in the LG election “despite interference by hidden hands”. He claimed that the masses rejected Dr Mirza’s group because of his indecent language and behaviour.

“Besides the district council where we have already gained a majority, we will have our chairman and vice chairman in the Tando Bago town committee with the support of some independent members,” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2015