HYDERABAD: Syed Murad Ali Shah — who has been named the chief minister of Sindh by the Pakistan Peoples Party for a second tenure — has comfortably won his Sehwan seat in Jamshoro district. He beat the local ‘Jamshoro Alliance’ nationalist candidate and convener of the Sindh United Party (SUP) Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah with a big margin.

Jalal Shah remained unlucky in the contest as he lost for a fourth time from his home district.

According to unofficial results, Syed Murad Ali Shah secured 50,467 votes against Jalal Shah’s 21,913 votes in the PS-80 constituency this time.

The Jamshoro Alliance was formed by Jalal Shah and disgruntled PPP leader Dr Sikandar Shoro from Kotri. It had fielded consensus candidates on one National Assembly and three Sindh Assembly seats in the district.

Former CM Syed Murad Ali Shah had started off his election campaign on an unpleasant note. Private TV channels had aired footage showing him grabbing the mobile phone of a local reporter at his [CM’s] residence when he was about to board his vehicle. The reporter was recording his conversation with an angry voter. Shah had to clarify his position before the media regarding the incident.

Jalal Shah had also contested against Sikandar Rahupoto on NA-233, besides Syed Murad Shah on PS-80.

Malik Asad Sikandar faced Dr Sikandar Shoro, the suspended deputy general secretary of PPP’s Sindh chapter, on PS-82 while Malik’s friend Gyanchand Esrani faced Malik Changez on PS-81. All candidates fielded by the alliance lost to their PPP rivals.

While Dr Sikandar Shoro lost by a narrow margin, the three PPP candidates, including Murad Shah, trounced their opponents with big margins. Jalal Shah got 81,000 votes against Rahupoto’s over 100,000 votes.

Shah also had to face litigation as Jalal Shah challenged his nomination. The election tribunal dismissed Jalal Shah’s application making him file a constitutional petition in the Sindh High Court, Hyderabad circuit bench, which was dismissed on July 18.

Syed Jalal Shah is the grandson of G.M. Syed — the icon of Sindh’s nationalist struggle and exponent of Sindhudesh. However, he failed to make it to the elected house for a fourth time in a row. He had first won this provincial seat from then Dadu district in 1997 when he defeated Murad Shah’s father Syed Abdullah Shah to mark his parliamentary debut. Jalal’s brother Syed Zain Shah, who is the general secretary of SUP, has also lost to PPP’s Ghulam Qadir Chandio on PS-39 in Shaheed Benazirabad (formerly Nawabshah) district in the July 25 elections.

Murad Shah had become the chief minister in July 2016 replacing PPP veteran Syed Qaim Ali Shah, who has now been elected from Khairpur’s provincial seat. Murad did not contest the 2013 general elections due to having dual nationality. His cousin, Abdul Nabi Shah, had then won the seat and now Murad Shah himself won it on July 25.

SUP’s Roshan Buriro had challenged Murad Shah’s candidature in Nov 2014 before the returning officer concerned and then the Sindh High Court. Later, he withdrew the petition on a directive of Jalal Shah, who again filed the petition. However, the court rejected it.

According to Syed Jalal Shah, he had filed the petition because Murad Shah had made a commitment at the time of withdrawal of the petition in 2014 that he would support him (Jalal Shah) on a National Assembly seat irrespective of PPP’s policy. Murad Shah, however, rejected the claim as “ridiculous”.

Murad Shah supported Malik Asad against Dr Shoro on PS-82 and Malik supported him on PS-80 in lieu of it. Besides, Malik supported Sikandar Rahupoto, a friend of Murad Shah, on Jamshoro’s National Assembly seat.

Dr Shoro decided to contest as an independent candidate after he was denied a PPP ticket on PS-82. Jalal Shah claims that his stronghold, Manjhand, was bifurcated through delimitation to benefit PPP.

The tribal chieftain, Malik Asad — who has remained undefeated in Jamshoro — had won this Kotri seat of the Sindh Assembly as an independent candidate in 1997 after quitting PPP due to his differences with Murad Shah’s father in 1996. He had then joined PML-N’s Sindh coalition government to become the minister for wildlife. Later, he returned to PPP.

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2018