The MQM has always been a force to be reckoned with in Landhi and Korangi (NA-240) since Altaf Hussain first emerged on the political scene in 1984.
MQM-Haqiqi has also kept up a presence here. Its chief, Afaq Ahmed, is in the running for the seat. So, the contest could be a tough one for the MQM-Pakistan.
I went to Landhi and Korangi to see how things were heating up. The PTI, PSP, MMA and PPP election camps and rallies were being held in the MQM stronghold.
People said that there were no crowds and excitement because the MQM (London), Altaf Hussain’s group, had boycotted the election. They did say, however, that they saw the MQM-P having the advantage of being given the kite electoral symbol.
“People are not interested in voting because they still have a soft corner for Altaf,” said an elderly man who lives at Labour Square. “But on election day they will go and vote for the kite as they have no other choice.”
Much has changed. The MQM had never relied on electables to win. In Altaf’s days, it was him and his old guard who used to mobilize workers and supporters during campaigns.
Which is why, if it wants to win NA-240, the MQM-P needs old party workers who have personal clout and standing in these areas.
Mustafa Kamal’s PSP has fielded MQM’s former MNA Asif Hasnain and MQM-H chief Afaq Ahmed is also standing from NA-240.
The PTI, PPP and MMA have also fielded candidates but no one is convinced they will do well.
This constituency, formerly known as NA-255, has 475,243 registered voters. In 2013, MQM’s Asif Hasnain won with 136,982 votes.
The PTI came second with just over 19,000 votes. So that is a huge margin.
MQM-P office-bearers claim that party workers, who had defected to the PSP after Altaf Hussain’s August 22 speech, will rejoin after July 25.
An old MQM worker who had joined the PSP a few months ago said that he would come back to his old party after the elections. He said the people in the area still consider Altaf their leader and would never support someone who had “stabbed their leader in the back”. He said you will never find any MQM-P leader criticizing Altaf Hussain because they know the people still have sympathies with the London group.