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People casts their votes at polling station at Sher Shah during by-election in the constituency of NA-151.  — Photo by APP

MULTAN, July 19: A contest which the PPP expected to be a walkover turned out to be a neck ‘n’ neck fight in Multan on Thursday.

The voters of the NA-151 constituency gave their mandate to Abdul Qadir Gilani, son of disqualified prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, but it was only a marginal victory for the PPP.

According to observers, the thin margin of the Gilani junior’s victory showed that the voters were disgruntled with the ruling party.

Independent candidate Shaukat Bosan, who was being dubbed the underdog despite enjoying the support of major opposition parties PTI, PML-N and the JI, put up a tough fight and lost by only 4,096 votes.

According to unofficial results, Mr Gilani secured 64,628 votes and Mr Bosan 60,532.

Celebrations erupted in the Gilani camp once the count was completed. There was tension in both camps during the count and fortunes fluctuated as results trickled in.

The Election Commission had set up 245 polling stations — 62 for men, 59 for women and 123 joint — with 712 booths.

The number of registered voters was 307,871.

Although the EC had declared 64 polling stations sensitive, the electoral process went on peacefully, except in Khairpur Bhutta where two groups occasionally fired into the air.

Ten candidates were in the run but only Mr Gilani contested on a party ticket.

The polling began at 8am and concluded at 5pm.

Urban stations saw a slow turnout, but polling in rural areas was brisk throughout the day.

Many voters reached polling stations on their own as under the new election rules candidates were not allowed to arrange pick-and-drop facility for them and the EC failed to provide transport in several areas.

The commission, however, made adequate arrangements to provide slips to voters containing their names, voter numbers and polling station by setting up camps outside polling booths.

But several voters at the Muhammadpura Ghota polling station complained that the slips were incorrect.