A number of reasons could be enumerated which led to the discomforting defeat of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman in the July 25 general election.
Heading an alliance of five religious parties — the MMA — Rehman tried his luck on two NA seats from his hometown-NA-38 DI Khan-I and NA-39 DI Khan-II, but this time around, he failed to land in the National Assembly after suffering a crushing defeat on both the seats at the hands of PTI contender. Rehman lost NA-38 to PTI’s Ali Amin Gandapur with a huge margin. Gandapur bagged 80,236 votes, while the MMA chief got 45,457 votes.
In a similar manner, the Maulana, who is also chief of his own faction JUI-F, was defeated also in NA-39 by PTI contender Muhammad Yaqoob Sheikh, who secured 79,150 votes, while Rehman secured 51,920 votes.
Hailing from a religious and political family, Rehman is considered a shrewd one in a present lot of politicians. Since 1988, the Maulana has been active in politics and had lost from his native constituency just one time earlier against PPP’s Faisal Karim Kundi in 2013 elections.
He knows much about politics, but this time around, nothing worked and he lost his two seats shoddily to one party — the PTI — which has apparently not made deep inroads to Southern districts of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
Different reasons are cited which caused a crushing defeat to the MMA chief, but above all, his opposition to FATA’s merger with KP cost him both the seats as a section within his party was clearly in favour of the merger.
The JUI-F chief’s stance on FATA’s merger had a bearing on politics in DI Khan because a number of tribal families have permanently shifted to DI Khan in the recent past and are registered there as voters, who might have cast their votes against the Maulana.
Secondly, though the MMA had been revived just a few months prior to the general election, the alliance could not impress many this time around like it had prior to 2002 elections. This time, a big division within its component parties also prevailed particularly between the two main stakeholders —the JUI-F and the JI.
Even though they were part of the MMA, they had fielded candidates against each other in some districts of KP. This division led to a clear rift among the workers, who preferred their own choices instead of the MMA together.
Thirdly, the increase in the number of fresh young voters, a majority of them are with the PTI, used ballots in a large number this time around. Similarly, it has also been reported that a good number of women voters also used their right to franchise in the general election and many of them might have cast votes against the MMA chief.
Fourthly, the PTI had completed a number of developmental projects in DI Khan as two of its ministers Ali Amin Gandapur and (late) Ikramullah Gandapur were in the provincial cabinet of the then chief minister Pervez Khattak. And that was another major factor which compelled the people to vote for the PTI instead of the old guards.
Fifthly, this time around, people particularly the youngsters of the PTI used social media aggressively pointing out lack of basic facilities in DI Khan, which was represented by the JUI-F in the previous KP assembly and the National Assembly. Those having smartphones used it as a propaganda tool against political rivals particularly the JUI-F.
In various clips on the social media, people from the area complained about having no schools, hospitals and potable water in the district, holding religious parties responsible for the pathetic conditions despite consistently winning from the constituencies in the past. The use of social media also enhanced political awareness among the voters as well, which led to the defeat of Rehman and the MMA chief.
Reportedly, elders preferred to vote for the MMA while the youngsters, who are in majority now, voted for the PTI. Another reason that led to the defeat of Rehman was his contest from two NA seats as he could not run impressive election campaigns in both the constituencies.
In other words, he failed this time around to impress his electorates against the PTI Tsunami, which made a history by winning the elections from the province for the second time besides emerging the largest party in the centre.
Rehman is rarely seen participating either in special happiness or poignant occasions, preferring to stay in Islamabad. Such goings-on matters the most in local politics.
Losing to the PTI with such huge margin will certainly compel Rehman to think seriously about changing trends in politics and the change is already visible.
Prior to July 25 elections, the MMA was confident enough to form the government at least in KP, but, it was the PTI which not only shattered its dream but also made a history to form the government in the province for the second consecutive term.