Saturday, July 02, 2022

By-poll in PP-272 Muzaffargarh: It’s a family affair

On July 17, control of Punjab Assembly will be on line, as race for 20 seats in province heats up

In this illustration, Zehra Basit Batool, Basit Bukhari’s wife (left) and PTIs Mozzam Khan Jatoi can be seen. —
In this illustration, Zehra Basit Batool, Basit Bukhari’s wife (left) and PTI's Mozzam Khan Jatoi can be seen. —

On July 17, the control of the Punjab Assembly will be on the line, as the race for 20 seats in the province heats up.

In Pakistan's most politically important province, the PML-N is hoping to maintain its narrow control. While the PTI is aiming to wrest the province away from the ruling party.

Who could tip the balance in their favour?

In the run-up to the by-polls, provides an in-depth look into each constituency:

A profile of the constituency

Total voters: 203,567

Male voters: 111,459

Female voters: 92,108

PP-272 falls under the constituency NA-185 where the MNA is PTI’s disgruntled lawmaker Basit Bukhari.

2018 winner: In 2018, Basit Bukhari’s mother, Zahra Batool, won the constituency as a PTI candidate.

This year, Batool was disqualified by the Election Commission of Pakistan for voting against her party candidate in the election for chief minister Punjab.

Contesting candidates

The PML-N has allotted the ticket to Zehra Basit Batool, Basit Bukhari’s wife.

While PTI has fielded Mozzam Khan Jatoi.

A third strong contender is Haroon Bukhari, Basit Bukhari’s brother, who is contesting independently.

Who could win?

Zehra Basit Batool has a fair chance of securing the constituency, as her husband, Basit Bukhari, is running her campaign. He enjoys a strong network and influence in the area. In fact, Zehra’s posters do not even carry her image.

Bukhari had won this constituency in the 2018 general election but later vacated it in favour of his national assembly constituency.

After which, by-elections were held in October 2018, where Bukhari’s mother, Zahra Batool, contested and won. Interestingly, Zahra Batool contested against her own son, Haroon Bukhari, who although ran as an independent but had the support of the PML-N.

Now, Zehra Basit Batool will face off against Haroon Bukhari, her brother-in-law. It has been reported that there was some resentment within the PML-N circles locally when Haroon was refused a ticket by the party. This may divide the PML-N vote bank in the area between Zehra and Haroon.

The factors in favour of PTI’s Mozzam Khan Jatoi are that he is from the powerful Jatoi family. His cousin is Abdul Qayyum Khan Jatoi was a federal minister in the Yousaf Raza Gillani's government from 2008-2010.

There are barely any party-based votes here. In fact, most of the voters vote on the basis of biradari (clan).

Religion can also be a factor in play in this constituency, it is for this reason that the right-wing TLP is expected to secure around 8,000 to 10,000 votes.

Election activity

Jatoi has put up a vigorous election campaign, while the PML-N camp has yet to come out in the constituency. Apart from that former prime minister Imran Khan is expected to address a political rally here on July 13.

Constituency problems

A very conservative and underdeveloped area.