The seat left vacant by former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani following his disqualification is shaping up to produce an interesting electoral battle in a region that will have a number of hotly contested constituencies between big political names.
It could see the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) indirectly tested in the electoral waters for the first time since its sudden rise to popularity within the last year or so. While the party has decided not to field a candidate in the NA-151 by-elections, a senior party leader will be supporting a candidate, Shaukat Bosan.
Shaukat is the younger brother of PTI senior member Sikandar Bosan – and he is likely to face off against Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) candidate Abdul Qadir Gilani – the former prime minister’s son.
PTI senior leaders told The Express Tribune on Saturday that Sikandar Bosan categorically told the party’s top leadership that he will contest NA-151 by-elections at all costs. Despite repeated requests by party chairman Imran Khan to not field his candidate for by-elections, Bosan after consulting his aides, is said to have decided to file his younger brother’s nomination papers on Monday (June 25).
“PTI will not field a candidate for by-elections in NA 151, Multan,” said party spokesperson Shafqat Mehmood. He maintained ‘bogus voters’ lists’ as the reason the party decided not to field any candidate in the poll. Mehmood added that PTI will not field candidates in any by-elections until the new voters’ lists, being prepared under Supreme Court directives, are completed.
This is the first time PTI has decided to back a candidate in by-elections for the Multan constituency.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Sikandar Bosan said: “We will not leave an empty ground for the Gilani family. I will field a candidate of my own choice.” He added that he will not follow in Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s footprints – referring to the former PPP stalwart who chose not to contest by-elections in his home constituency, neighbouring NA-148, which was then won by the former prime minister’s younger son, Ali Musa.
“My party (PTI) wants to boycott this by-election but my stance is different for now. I cannot leave my home constituency empty. My voters forced me to field a candidate for the elections,” said Sikandar, who recently also met Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Tahmina Daultana.
Meanwhile, PPP has nominated former premier Gilani’s elder son Abdul Qadir to contest by-elections for the former’s seat. Abdul Qadir also won a provincial assembly seat from Rahim Yar Khan. Gilani had also considered the names of his daughter Fiza Batool and youngest son Ali Haider for the vacant post prior to fielding Abdul Qadir.
Malik Ishaq Bucha, who recently left PPP, is expected to represent PML-N in the by-election. Bucha declared that he would not let Abdul Qadir “get a vote of sympathy from the public and make fools of them afterwards with corruption.”
Political pundits anticipate an interesting political battle among the three candidates.
Politics of Multan district
Currently, there are five from a total of six MNAs from Multan. Two of them belong to PPP and two to PML-N, while Dewan Ashiq Bokhari represents Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) from NA 153.
PPP MNAs Ali Musa Gilani and Nawab Liaquat Ali Khan are from NA 148 and NA 152 respectively. Sheikh Tariq Rasheed and Rana Mahmoodul Hassan represent PML-N from NA 149 and NA 150.
NA 151 lies vacant since the apex court’s ruling disqualified Yousaf Raza Gilani.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2012.