ISLAMABAD: The stage is set for yet another electoral bout between PPP and PML-N in a by-election, as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced schedule for by-election after seat of NA-151 (Multan-IV) constituency fell vacant following the disqualification of Yusuf Raza Gilani as MNA.
Polling for the electoral exercise to be carefully watched by the rival parties and political observers has been fixed for July 19 by the Election Commission that remains without a full-time chief election commissioner since March 31 this year.
In 2008 general election, Gilani had received 77,664 votes while his closest rival then PML’s Sikandar Khan Bossan bagged 45,765 votes while PML-N’s Malik Majeed Bucha secured 18,413 votes out of total votes polled. Bossan, a former federal minister, late last year, joined Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
Total registered voters at that time were 351,092 while only 38.85 percent of these were polled, showing the turn-out was less than satisfactory and the votes polled for Gilani, who served later as prime minister for just over four years also did not get the number of votes, should show him as truly a popular local politician.
Sources in the ruling coalition hinted this time PML might not field its candidate to strengthen PPP’s position in this constituency and let its candidate make his way to the National Assembly.
Interestingly, Gilani’s brother Ahmad Mujtaba Gilani had also contested from the constituency in the previous general election as an independent candidate and got a paltry 150 votes: least secured by any candidate in that constituency.
However, PPP afterwards gave him ticket to run for the Punjab Assembly seat from Multan and he managed to bag 38,035 votes while his closest opponent PML-N’s Naghma Shah got 32,313 votes in 2010 bye-election. Today, his brother has been disqualified for five years; Mujtaba Gilani is an MPA along with his nephew Abdul Qadir Gilani.
PPP sources did not rule out the possibility of Abdul Qadir being asked by the party leadership after Raja Pervaiz Ashraf takes oath as prime minister and a new cabinet is formed, to resign from the Punjab Assembly to contest from NA-151.
They even claimed that Fizza Batool Gilani, who was made goodwill ambassador for women empowerment and had her office in the Prime Minister Secretariat, could also be given an opportunity to contest the upcoming by-election from Multan for the seat of MNA or even MPA, as PPP would strongly favour someone from Gilani family to return to the provincial legislature if Abdul Qadir is to run for NA-151 seat.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission has asked the electors of NA-151 to fill the seat of the constituency, and issued a schedule in this connection and as per this, nomination papers will be filed by candidates on June 25-26 to be followed by the scrutiny of papers on June 28-29.
The last date for filing appeals against the decisions of the returning officer on rejecting and accepting the nomination papers is July 02 while last date for deciding appeals by the tribunal is July 04, whereas for withdrawal of the candidature is July 05. The revised list of candidates will be displayed on July 06.