LAHORE: With the changing political realities on the electoral battleground, NA-126 is likely to witness a tough fight among the PML-N, PTI and JI candidates on May 11.
Though there are also other candidates in the race for NA-126, keeping in view the political reality of PTI, strong presence of PML-N and meaningful vote bank of JI in NA-126, the three parties are expected to be the main contenders in this constituency.
PTI has fielded Shafqat Mehmood from NA-126, Khawaja Ahmed Hassan is leading PML-N and Liaqat Baloch is representing JI in this National Assembly constituency which is a mix of posh and middle class vicinities.Prominent localities in NA-126 are Model Town, Garden Town, Faisal Town, Muslim Town, Iqbal Town, Johar Town, Makkah Colony, Gulberg, Nasirabad, Rehmanpura, Wahdat Colony and Pakki Thathi.Total registered voters in this constituency are 360,304 of whom 194,850 are males and 165,454 females while 17 union councils (UCs) exist here.
PML-N which is considered to be the driving political force in the provincial capital has its support bases in the entire constituency. JI enjoys a strong vote bank in the areas of Gulberg, Muslim Town and Garden Town. PTI which is a new factor in the political arena enjoys support in the posh areas of NA-126. Local political leaders in NA-126, talking to this correspondent during a visit to the constituency on Saturday, said PTI needed a lot of efforts to grab the seat, as just support from the new vote or youth ballot would not bring success to Imran Khan’s candidate. They said PTI needed extra work to counter the traditional mechanics of electioneering being adopted by the PML-N and JI candidates in NA-126.
Many of the youth of the constituency, answering a question regarding use of their votes, said they were in favour of PTI. However, a large number of youth’s voters under various groups stand by PML-N in the same constituency. Similarly, JI’s vote bank is also intact as usual. According to the local leaders of the constituency, had PTI and JI forged an alliance, they could turn the tables in NA-126 and the two provincial assembly constituencies, PP-151 and PP-152. A smart electoral strategy on part of PTI could still upset the political formation of NA-126 and the two provincial assembly constituencies falling under NA-126.
In the 2008 general elections, Umer Sohail Zia Butt of PML-N secured NA-126 by getting 69,718 votes while PPP candidate Syed Hasnat Ahmed was runner up by bagging 25,056 ballots. Liaqat Baloch won NA-126 in the 2002 polls from the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal platform by getting 43,679 votes while PPP candidate Fakhar Zaman was runner up by securing 14,107 votes. It merits mentioning here that Dr Shahid Siddique Khan of PTI bagged 12,354 votes in the 2002 polls from NA-126, but the PTI political weight could not be tested in the 2008 elections due to its boycott from the platform of All Parties Democratic Movement.
PPP which remained runner up in the 2002 and 2008 elections seems not in the serious race due to its low popularity graph. Moreover, some prominent PPP groups from this constituency have joined PTI or PML-N. PML-N candidate Ijaz Ahmed Khan won PP-151 in the 2008 polls by getting 40,589 votes while Sardar Hur Bukhari of PPP was runner up by securing 14,433. In PP 152, PML-N candidate Dr Saeed Elahi remained the winner by getting 25,281 votes while PML-Q candidate Chaudhry Moonis Elahi secured 23,537 votes.
In the 2002 general elections, late Ahad Malik of PML-N won PP-151 by getting 21,456 votes (later, he switched over to PML-Q) while Arshad Imran Sulehri of PML-Q was runner up by bagging 9,742 ballots. In PP-152, Chaudhry Abdul Ghaffor Khan of PML-N emerged victorious by getting 12,098 votes while Ashraf Ijaz Gill of PPP was runner up by securing 8,219. Muhammad Amin Zaki of PTI secured 4,875 votes without a comprehensive electoral campaign. Meanwhile, the PML-N has fielded Syed Tousif Shah from PP-151, PTI put up Mian Mehmod-ur-Rasheed in the race, Faheem Thakur leading the PPP and Mehmood-ul-Ahad representing the JI.
In PP-152, Khawaja Salman Rafique is PML-N candidate, Murad Raas leading the PTI, Javed Akhtar Chaudhary is PPP’s contender and Malik Shahid Aslam would lead the JI. In NA-126 and its allied provincial assembly constituencies of PP-151 and 152, Khawaja Hassan Ahmed, Shafqat Mehmood, Zahid Bokhari, Syed Tousif Shah, Murad Raas, Faheem Thakur, Javed Akhtar Chaudhary, Mehmood-ul-Ahad and Malik Shahid Aslam are the first timers in the general elections. While Liaqat Baloch, Khawaja Salman Rafique and Mian Mehmood-ur-Rasheed had contested elections before and elected to National Assembly and Punjab Assembly. – Nation