Local bodies’ elections in Sindh are in full swing. After some surprising results where candidates from marginalized backgrounds including women defeated politically strong feudal candidates, the ruling party was stirred from hubris slumber. The overconfident PPP leadership haven’t imagined that their strong candidates would get battered by those whom it considered non-entities.

Thus in the second phase of the local body elections, the local party leaders and MPAs and MNAs become proactive. In the Dadu district, both the carrot and stick strategy was amply implemented. Opposition candidates alleged that they were made to wait for long hours whereas the ruling party-backed candidates were called to the EC office, and treated preferentially during accepting of the forms. The independent and opposition party’s candidates also alleged that handpicked ROs rejected their forms on flimsy and minor grounds whereas the ruling party candidates were given clean chits. There were reports of rival candidates being kidnapped, harassed and pressured to announce withdrawing in favour of the ruling party candidates.

Contrary to the common perception that PPP being in power continuously since 2008 would sweep the local body election, the major setback to the ruling party has matured because the top party leadership fully relied on the winning horses i.e. feudal lords at the cost of the sincere party worker and voter.

The large influx of feudal lords and workers from different parties who had been opposing PPP tooth and nail and used abusive language against the top and local parity leadership joined the ruling party. It was a tradition that old workers used to criticize the local leadership in party meetings which later bore with magnanimity and made course corrections in light of party worker criticism. With the coming of new party workers who praised the district party leadership to the sky, the sincere worker was fully ignored and hundreds of such workers have taken a back seat.

This new trend of victimizing independent candidates has further dented the party’s democratic credentials. Thus seeing the danger of kidnapping and victimizing, many independent candidates rushed to get shelter under PTI, JUI-F and Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP) as they deemed themselves secure as ticket holders of one or other parties from unbearable pressure from powerful ruling party leaders and local chosen representatives

PPP had already lost ground to the PML-N, PTI, JUI-F, and TLP in the remaining three provinces and most of the urban areas of Sindh. Now the wrong policies of local party leadership and marginalizing of the old trained and mature party workers have further weakened and even the squeezed party stronghold in interior Sindh.

Furthermore, the most dangerous aspect of the present state of affairs is that PPP’s local leadership’s actions have pushed the moderate political forces to the PTI, JUF and TLP. The top party leadership should take notice of this to save the province from falling to extreme parties otherwise this trend may affect the party’s prospects in upcoming general elections.