NA-249 karachi bypolls- PPP victory surprised many

 Opinion polls were predicting PTI or PML-N victory in this constituency

Many political commentators and analysts on the news channels are declaring the victory of PPP candidate Qadir Khan Mandokhail surprising. They are calling it surprising because opinion polls released before the bypolls written off the PPP in this constituency. The opinion polls were giving PPP fourth or fifth position.

For many analysts and politicians in the constituency, it is hard to comprehend how the PPP could pull out a win, considering that it ranked sixth, by securing over 7,000 votes in the 2018 general polls, but came out first on Thursday with 16,156 votes.

The problem with many commentators and analysts is that they consider PPP a party of interior Sindh. For them PPP is dead outside the rural Sindh. So this victory in Karachi really shocked them. It is difficult for them to digest the fact that PPP is a force to reckon in Karachi.  

This victory is not surprising at all. PPP enjoys good vote bank in this constituency. Even though PPP candidate Qadir Mandokhail finished at 6th place in the 2018 general elections with securing 7075 votes-it was wrong to written it off.

PPP can even perform much better in Karachi in the next general elections. PPP can exploit the decline of MQM and weak position of PTI in its favour. but it need to concentrate on some constituencies to get better results.  

It is true that PPP vote bank in this constituency was on the decline since 2002. MQM is the only party which won this constituency twice since 2002. Both PPP and PML-N failed to won this constituency even once.

Unlike many other constituencies, NA-249 never been dominated by single party. This seat changed hands many times in the past. The constituency has been held by four parties, but even today, the area is in dilapidated condition.

There is more than one factor that contributed in the victory of PPP candidate Qadir Mandokhail in NA-249 bypolls. The low turnout, declining support for MQM-P and PTI, the disillusionment of young voters, PML-N’s confused position on the resignations, and the development work of the PPP provincial government and better strategy of the PPP leaders all contributed in this victory.

The low turnout helps the PPP candidate to clinch this seat despite getting little over 16,100 votes. PPP increased nearly 9,000 votes in this election compare to 2018. The low turnout went against PTI which lost large number of votes in the constituency.

The Ramzan and scorching heat played important role in the low turnout. The youth voters also had shown hardly any interest in the bypolls. The PPP was able to mobilise its voters compare to other parties. 

The PTI supporters seems demoralised in this constituency and failed to mobilised their voters. PPP strategy for this election worked well. They target certain areas of the constituency to mobilise their voters.   

The other factor is that the PPP took the by-polls in NA-249 seriously mainly because the constituency is now part of newly created District Kemari. PPP Sindh government is taking keen interests in this constituency and undertook some development work to gain support for upcoming local government elections. PPP wants to win this district.

In order to ensure a win in the by-election, PPP’s strategy was to woo voters by carrying out local arrangements of resolving civic issues, such as installing water and sewerage lines, and carpeting broken roads.

The surge of PTI surprised many in 2018. But it seems that this surge was a one time phenomenon. The eroding support of PTI has created space for PPP to consolidate its position.

Although the PPP failed to gain significant results in the 2018 general polls from Karachi, gaining successes in the by-polls in the ethnically mixed constituency, such as NA-249, became easy for it by conducting local arrangements and shifting the government machinery entirely towards the constituency.

The confused position of PML-N on resignations from parliament did not go well with voters. The voters were not clear that whether Miftah Ismail will retain the seat or resign after winning. PPP candidate took advantage of this confusion.  

It is also an ethnically mixed constituency. No single ethnic group dominates this constituency. That is one of the reason that different candidates performed well in different areas. In some areas PML-N showed better performance but in others PPP, PSP, banned TLP and PTI performed well.  

MQM, PML-N and PPP won this constituency twice since 1988. MMA won this seat in 2002.   

So combination of different factors played their role in the victory of PPP and defeat of PML-N and PTI candidates.

                                                          Khalid Bhatti 

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