LARKANA: After a long silence, that had started with the May 10 resignation of Larkana mayor Muhammad Aslam Shaikh, hopes are high in the members of the Larkana Municipal Corporation (LMC) as aspirants have started mustering support for themselves to capture the seat. The resignation was forwarded to the local government secretary on May 13.
The question whether the Larkana mayor had resigned on his own or was actually asked to step down stands irrelevant as things have cleared now.
His background of his resignation was apparently a rift among the PPP-backed LMC members that had compelled the disgruntled former mayor to step down but he mentioned ‘health’ as the reason.
The moment PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s message was conveyed to him [Aslam Shaikh], he immediately complied with it, sources privy to the issue told Dawn.
On 20 May secretary of local government Khalid Hyder Shah in a notification issued under Section (2) of Section-80 of the Sindh Local Government Act-2013 had assigned the functions of the Mayor to Deputy Mayor Anwar Luhar till the elections were held.
Subsequently the notification was forwarded to the Election Commission of Pakistan to further process the matter. It was a general impression in the files and ranks of the party that he (Anwar Luhar) would continue and the chances of election were bleak. But assumptions settled down when Election Commission of Pakistan in its notification on 29 May under Sub-Section (1) of Section 34 and Sub-Section (8) of Section 18 of the Sindh Local Government Act-2013 read with sub-rule (1) of rule-12 of the Sindh Local Councils (Election) had announced the schedule of election for the vacant seat of mayor.
The process of election for new mayor, according to the notification, will start from 13 June when the expected candidates get nomination papers from the returning officer. 17 and 18 June had been fixed as the dates for filing nomination papers while polling date would be 10 July, the notification said. The election results would be declared on 11 July. The Council of Larkana Municipal Corporation consisted of 30 members where PPP enjoyed majority.
There are 20 seats of elected chairmen in LMC where according to sources PPP had the support of 19 members while the opposition, mainly the Larkana Awami Ittehad (LAI), had the standing of only seven members, including five elected chairmen and two nominated women on reserved seats. Currently of four members of the PPP, Amir Bakhsh Gaad had died, another chairman joined government service while Kalpna Devi had also joined judiciary and another youth had also got a government job. However their absence had no issue with the majority of PPP in the house, the sources said but expressed the fear that the element of ‘rift’ that had forced the former mayor to resign would count, as the opposition may hit at somehow ‘weaker’ members of the PPP and might clandestinely change their loyalties which could be witnessed in ballot papers.
It is mentioned here that the former mayor was reportedly dejected when a group of pro-PPP chairmen, including Tariq Nazeer Shaikh, Khair Muhammed Shaikh, Muhammed Ali Memon, Ali Gohar Bhatti and others had led the boycott of the session on 22 April. In this situation, in the home district of PPP it was learnt that party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had decided filling the seat through elections and he had reportedly discussed the issue with president of PPP Sindh chapter Nisar Ahmed Khuhro.
Under the obtaining conditions following PPP-backed aspirants — Khair Muhammed Shaikh general secretary PPP Larkana district, Aftab Nek Muhammed Bhutto, Ghulam Asghar Khichi, Muhammed Ali Memon, Tariq Nazeer Shaikh may jump in the race and if asked for party tickets, they may apply to have it, the sources said.
It is also learnt on good authority that opposition [LAI] was also trying to create a dent in the size of pro-PPP members’ strength through backdoor diplomacy. Although it was evident that it would be a herculean task for the LAI to strike at PPP’s popularity, but it may try to create ripples in the confidence of pro-PPP members.
The ambiguity could surface, as the election date draws closer with the question that either the election for the new mayor could be held in the absence of incomplete house [as currently four members were not the part of the house], as mentioned above, the sources linked with the local government department said.
Another source held that elections can be held. And most likely the PPP would retain the slot of Mayor of the Larkana Municipal Corporation.
Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2019