Top leadership from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has reportedly delegated the ‘tough’ task of defeating the Mirzas of Badin district in the general elections scheduled for 2023 to a number of known political figures.
According to information gathered by the Friday Times from various credible sources, including PPP leaders and officials familiar with the political affairs of Badin district, the provincial seat of Tando Bago (PS 72) of Badin district is a matter of great concern for top PPP leadership. The party sees it as a means to put an end to the ‘Mirza dynasty’ in Badin district, which spans over three decades.
To defeat the Mirzas on this seat, PPP leadership has reportedly assigned a number of PPP ticket-aspirants and their aides the mission to dilute and decrease the influence of the Mirzas in their constituency. Party sources informed this reporter that during his recent tour in neighbouring Tando Allahyar district, Asif Ali Zardari spent much of his time with PPP leaders from Badin district and thoroughly discussed with them the political situation of the Mirzas. Zardari reportedly directed them to conduct results-oriented fieldwork to knock down his rival, Dr Zulfikar Mirza, and family members.
The Mirza family’s uncontested reign
The Badin district seat has been a concern for PPP leadership for many years. PPP candidate Syed Ali Bux, also known as Pappu Shah, was defeated by Barrister Hasnain Mirza, the elder son of Dr Mirzas, during the last general elections with a margin of only five thousand votes.
Syed Pappu Shah faced humiliating defeat from Barrister Hasnani Mirza, mainly because the PPP candidate did not handle the electoral process properly. Due to ‘unspecified reasons,’ during the crucial last five days ahead of the polls, Syed Pappu Shah went silent after his reported meeting with some ‘ powerful people’.
The ‘ strange silence’ by Shah during the final crucial days of the campaign gave much advantage to his rival candidate, but also made it easy for Dr Fehmida Mirza, Barrister Hasnani Mirza’s mother, to retain her National Assembly seat for the record fifth time on the general seat as a female candidate. The fumble by PPP allowed Dr. Fehmida to win at a time when the Mirzas had already lost three seats of the district.
Some political pundits believe that the PPP leadership missed a great golden opportunity to politically oust the Mirzas of Badin.
A second chance for the PPP
The PPP has now reportedly vowed to defeat the Mirzas by campaigning with a ‘proper’ candidate, though the party has not announced the name of final candidate yet. The party has reportedly asked at least four political figures to garner the sympathies of their voters, as well as the support of the notables close to the Mirzas, to change their loyalties.
Haji Sain Bux Jamali, Mir Waqar Ahmed Talpur, Qabool Mohammad Khatian and Arbab Ameer Amanullah from Tharparkar are among the potential PPP candidates in the Badin district. They are aspiring to get the party ticket and make wonders, each claiming to have the support of a considerable number voters in the constituency.
Syed Pappu Shah, who has a long history of losing elections against his rivals (with only one victory during the Musharraf-era against a ‘weak’ PPP candidate, the late Haji Karim Bhurgari), has reportedly remained silent — with the exception of a few public political appearances.
But people closely watching the political landscape and dynamics of Badin district believe that among the local candidates, Shah still has a chance to win this seat. However, despite being an experienced stalwart, he would need the other PPP aspirants and notables to help him by rising above their personal interests and egos for the sake of the party.
The same local observers completely rule out both Mr. Jamali and Mr. Khatian as the proper persons to face the ‘onslaught’ of Dr Zulfikar Ali Mirza and his team, and term both potential candidates as too weak to win the seat.
They believe that Jamali, though he has worked hard for the past few years to strengthen the party, still has a slim chance to win.
Qabool Mohammad Khatian has neither his personal vote-bank nor support from any notables in Badin district. His own claims to have ‘ensured the just and judicious irrigation water distribution’ as a chairman of Area Water Board may not be enough to put him among the favourites. Still, Khatian seems to rely on support from Mr Ghulam Qadir Marri, the close aide of Asif Aki Zardari. Khatian is often seen hobnobbing with Marri during the events in the district.
Haji Sain Bux is said to have high hopes and big ‘dreams’ to get the party ticket by using both his ‘contacts’ as well as his vast wealth. However, he will need to stay away from certain persons close to him engaged in ‘questionable activities’ in order to have at least a slight chance against party favorites.
Arbab Lutufalla, PPP MPA from Tharparkar and Special Assistant to Chief Minister Sindh for Sports, is currently busy organising public meetings and requesting old family contacts to join PPP. He would also like his younger brother Arbab Ameer Amanullah to get party ticket.
Some political observers believe that the constituents who are joining PPP on the request of Arbab Lutufalla could reverse their decision if approached properly by his political rivals, even those from his own family such as Dr. Arbab Ghulam Rahim and Arbab Anwar Jabbar. In that case, Arbab would be an ‘easy’ target for the Mirzas to retain the provincial seat.
The Talpurs of Badin district, who are keeping their eyes on this seat too, would like to bring Waqaar Ahmed Talpur as the party candidate, a feat they are undertaking using their immense influence and closeness with Faryal Talpur and her brother Asif Ali Zardari. However, it would be hard for Talpur to make inroads into the politics of Tando Bago after his present aloofness from the area for ‘unknown reasons’. Interestingly, a few months back, Talpur was very active in the area and was considered to be among the few favourite candidates of the party for this ‘troubled’ constituency.
Political pundits believe that Waqaar is an ‘honest and upright ‘ person but may not be able to make the difference for the party until and unless the Talpurs create a conducive environment for him much ahead of the elections.
Any move by PPP leadership to import a candidate from another district for the ‘double role’ of contesting the election and safeguarding the business interests of Zardari could also prove an exercise in futility, according to observers. Rather, this move could lead to a possible humiliation for the party and Asif Ali Zardari himself, since the Mirzas, despite some dents within their ranks and files, are still a hard nut to crack.
Syed Pappu Shah, therefore, again looks like a suitable candidate among the available lot. However, if the Mirzas change their strategy and Dr ZA Mirza himself decides to contest the next elections from PS 72, and fields his son either in Talhar or in Badin, the situations will take a new and interesting turn along together.
Man observers also believe that the PPP leadership will need to make wise, prudent and ‘bitter’ decisions if they want to politically ‘banish’ the Mirzas out of Badin district.