Islamabad - PTI Chairman Imran Khan is poised to test his political power in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the upcoming Local Bodies election, first time after he failed to oust Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in August last year.

Many are keen to see how Imran and his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) that runs government in the lone Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) bordering the terror-hit restive Fata would recoup with the estranged fans and party supporters who did not want him to call off the unprecedented sit-in to protest the alleged election rigging.

His stunning second marriage soon after the grisly terrorist attack on Army Public School Peshawar on December 16 is also believed to have not gone well with the sentiments of Khan’s fans and supporters in KP. Many viewed his decision an odd time affair.

Background discussions and interviews with his party cadres in KP and activists of other major political parties suggest that PTI may face stiff opposition in the LB polls, expected to be held in the province soon after the Senate elections next month.

Even though Imran Khan and PTI’s other senior leaders seem quite confident to sweep the LB polls throughout the province, his traditional political rivals including the ANP, JUI-F, PML-N, PPP and National Wattan Party of Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao are equally confident to regain the space they had lost to the PTI in the 2013 general elections.

Grouping within the PTI, particularly party’s those sitting MPs who dissented Chairman’s decision to submit their resignations unlike many of their colleagues in the National Assembly and Punjab and Sindh assemblies did, is another major challenge for Khan to surmount.

They believed that PTI’s cadres in district level organisations have lost interest in the party affairs for several reasons chiefly among them cited is their disenchantment over party’s repressive political culture driven by the blue-eyed factor. They say PTI government has failed to deliver not only in terms of their welfare but for lack of development work in their respective areas.

“Because of ambiguity, many fans and diehard supporters of Imran Khan are on the verge of joining other political parties in the province”, a PTI supporter requesting not to named told The Nation. He blamed party’s provincial leadership for its indifferent attitude to organise the party at the village level, this he believed would badly affect the party’s performance in the upcoming LB polls - expected to be held in May this year.

On the other hand, political observers believed that the PTI in spite of being in the government would not secure support of winning candidates largely because of political opportunism. They point out that in Hazara Division many PTI activists have already switched their loyalties to the PML-N. Similarly, PTI has lost many committed workers in Peshawar, Mardan and Charsadda districts because of reorganisation of ANP and National Wattan Party.

So is the case in other districts, sources said, adding that the major opposition parties have been successful in making inroads into PTI’s constituencies over the past few months and shortlisted their potential candidates for the LB election. In a belated move PTI has just started party’s membership drive to regain its political influence, but its rivals have already completed their political work.

Major opposition parties including PML-N, ANP, National Wattan Party and JUI-F are said to have shortlisted their candidates for tehsil and district councils leaving the PTI in a quandary on how to catch up with the situation. Some PTI insiders insist that Imran Khan may delay the LB polls in the KP till his buddy chief minister Pervaiz Khattak invents some magic trick to win the crucial election.