When the peasant beats his lord

Comrade Mustafa Chandio defeats contestant backed by Nawab Ahmed Chandio

Comrade Ghulam Mustafa Chandio with his supporters. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: The man who opened his eyes as the son of an impoverished peasant, and went to prison on a number of occasions for the rights of haaris, could hardly have imagined growing up that he would defeat a feudal lord in local bodies elections. Yet, here is Comrade Ghulam Mustafa Chandio, a victor at 69 years of age.

He contested the election from the tribal area of Kamber-Shahdadkot district where people of the less privileged segments of society are not even allowed to sit before the tribal chief.

Despite different kinds of threats, he dared to think the impossible, contest, and even win a general councillor seat, defeating the nominee of a feudal lord.

It was tough competition in the Ghaibi Dero union council, which is the home constituency of Nawab Sardar Ahmed Chandio, a ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MPA and the tribal chief of the Chandio clan.

Locals have said that for generations, no one dared to contest an election against the nominees of tribal chiefs, but Ghulam Mustafa Chandio stood up and went against the status quo.

 “I contested the election for two positions. One was for UC chairman against the first cousin of our tribal chief, another for the general councillor. After a big fight, they defeated me using state machinery in UC Ward-III, but could not rig the election in a ward where I have swept the elections,” he boasted.

 The councillor-elect contested the polls on a ticket of the Awami Tehreek, a representative party of the haari and mazdoor class. According to election commission results, Comrade got 333 votes, while runner-up Riza Chandio could only secure 135.

Soon after the results, there were celebrations in the area.

“I have asked people not to visit me, but I prefer to go to the doorsteps of each and everyone who supported me,” declared the jubilant victor.

Chandio was hardly a four-year-old when his father passed away. After getting his primary education, he followed the path of his ancestors and became a peasant, with an additional job as a herdsman looking after his family’s cattle.

“When I was a teenager, one of my friends who used to live in a nearby town brought a book with him. The title was “Harriyan Je Baghawat” (The revolt of peasants). It was a turning point in my life when I read the book on his insistence,” he said.

Comrade’s first step towards defiance was to stop attending events organised by his feudal lord.

“Then I started attending the programmes of peasants which were organided by Rasool Bux Palijo, Fazul Rahu and Qazi Abdul Ghafar, all legends who advocated against feudalism and for the rights of peasants,” he said.

After becoming a member of Awami Tehreek, led by Palijo, Comrade Ghulam Mustafa Chandio became a renowned activist and attended many long marches on foot from Sukkur to Karachi and Kashmore to Karachi for the rights of peasants, as well as the shortage of irrigation water.

“Twice, I went to jail with Palijo Sahab during the long marches.”

“When I started a political career, read books and newspapers, and spent time with my political leadership, suddenly the fear of the tribal chief disappeared and I blatantly stood up and became vocal against the cruelty and discrimination of the local influential. This is how I decided to contest the polls,” he said.

Comrade said this was his second election and his first victory has brought joy to the lives of marginalised people.

“Our tribal chief and his brother are elected MPAs of our area and their attitude can be measured from the fact that they don’t [even] shake hands with the poor,” he said.

His polling agent and political activist Murk Manan Chandio, a fresh woman graduate from the area, told The Express Tribune that people were terrified “when we asked them to vote for us [back in 2015 elections]”.

 “They used to say that our tribal chief will punish them if we go against their wishes. Now, the situations seem to have changed. Many people openly support us without any fear,” she said.

┬áMurk Manan urged people from the middle and lower-middle class must to come forward. “Comrade takes poor patients to Karachi, Hyderabad, and other cities and towns if anyone falls seriously ill. He bears all the expense from his pocket and helps poor people in any emergency,” she said.

Courtesy : Express Tribune