That the Pakistan People’s Party has failed to snatch provincial by-poll for PS-11, Larkana is shocking to the party and foretells the onset of the party’s dwindling popularity in its once invincible stronghold. The party first lost the seat in the general election to Grand Democratic Alliance’s (GDA’s) candidate Moazzam Ali Abbasi in 2018. Later, a court order resulted in a bye-poll, and the party chairman, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari ran fierce electioneering, which also invoked the Election Commission of Pakistan’s notices of breaching election codes. As per unofficial results, Mr Abbasi bagged 31,557 votes, while PPP’s Jamil Soomro got 26,021 votes. Despite the tough battle, polling was held in a peaceful environment, for which credit goes to the Sindh government. Also, Rangers and the army contingents were also deployed in the constituency.
The PPP alleges acts of transgression such as rigging, deceiving ballot papers, undue deployment of Rangers and so on. No doubt, the PPP has been the worst victim of organized rigging, the recent result where the GDA candidate won effortlessly, shows the constituency has revolted against the PPP. When the dust settles, the PPP must undergo a soul-searching exercise, and change its strategies to rise from the ashes again. The exercise should start with discussion the choice of the candidate. Mr Soomro is the political secretary of PPP chairman Bilawal and is the most pictured bystander by Mr Bhutto-Zardari. The party should have thought twice before fielding such a candidate who spends most of his time away from the core constituency. PPP parliamentarians in Sindh are best known for their ability to keep in touch with the public all the time. For this reason, they have been defeating all odds in most of the elections since 80s.
The other factor contributing to the defeat can be the absence of electioneering stalwarts Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur. Both have frustrated the strongest tactics by their opponents in elections in the past. No doubt, Bhutto-Zardari has demonstrated the finest policies at the national level but the reality is he needs to learn the witchcraft of electioneering, which involves making local level alliances, breaking influencers from the opponent camp and so on. The other reason is the party’s constant fight against the allegations of corruption. Most of the party leaders are in National Accountability Bureau custody and so many others are facing initial level inquiries. The most important factor, however, is governance. The permanent ruling party of Sindh must revisit its governance indicators.