Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) candidate Usman Bhatti on Thursday won the PP-194 by-election in Multan by just over 300 votes.
According to unofficial results, Usman Bhatti secured 20,416 votes. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate Moinuddin Riaz Qureshi came second with 20,097 votes.
Voter turnout remained around 22 per cent.
The result is an upset of sorts given that the constituency had traditionally voted for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidates.
When unofficial count was finally announced, celebrations began at the residences of Usman Bhatti and Amir Dogar, the secretary general for PPP South Punjab.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Bhatti said, “My victory is a humble tribute to our leader Yousuf Raza Gillani.”
He also called it sweet revenge and democracy’s victory. He said the voters clearly appreciated his loyalty to the PPP. He said his opponent had fluanted his wealth during the election campaign but failed to impress the electorate.
He said, “This victory is the first proverbial drop of the establishment of the Seraiki province.”
Congratulating the winning candidate, Prime Minister Gilani said his success reflected the confidence the people had in the PPP. He said he hoped that the newly elected MPA would remain committed to democracy and serve his constituency.
The seat had been vacant after PML-N member Shahid Mahmood Khan resigned and joined the Pakistan Tekreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in support of Makhdoom Javed Hashmi.
PML-N media coordinator Mohammad Mehdi said that party will examine the causes for loss.
A central PML-N leader speaking anonymously, blamed the loss of poor candidate selection. He said that Qureshi had been awarded the party ticket on the recommendation of a senior bureaucrat against better advice by party workers. He said Qureshi had joined the party only recently after leaving the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q).
Bhatti was elected deputy mayor of Multan during the last local bodies elections.
Polling remained peaceful with no violence or irregularities. It also featured the use of electronic voting machines for the first time. These were used at women’s polling stations in the Degree College, Kutechery and Workers Welfare School on experimental basis.
The total number of votes registered in PP-194 is 188,472 (102,416 male and 86,056 female). The Election Commission of Pakistan had set up 134 polling stations (69 for male voters and 65 for female voters). A total of eight independent candidates also contested the by-election.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2012.