LAHORE  - With only 23 days remaining in the July25 polls, the usual election mania is missing from the electioneering which is yet to pick up momentum in the wake of wrangling over distribution of party tickets and uncertainty about holding of elections.

This time around, the election campaign is also marred by ongoing political engineering by the invisible forces and the hot and humid weather preventing candidates from coming out on the streets.

Barring a few major cities, the election campaign at the moment is confined only to display of posters, banners and party flags in the cities although major political parties have announced their schedule for election rallies.

Unlike previous elections, political parties this time took more time settling disputes over ticket distribution than campaigning for their candidates. In the recent days, party activists were seen surrounding the party offices protesting against what they believed unfair treatment meted out to them by the leaders. 

Also, candidates are yet to set up their election offices in the cities and small towns to be used for the electioneering. Some, however, have started door-to-door campaign to lure the voters.

“It is really hard for the candidates and their supporters to step out of their air-conditioned rooms to canvass in the hot and humid weather”, PTI’s president for South Punjab and a National Assembly candidate from Vehari, Ishaq Khaqwani told The Nation. He said it was after so many years that country was going to polls in such a hot weather. Khaqwani hoped that election campaign will get impetus in few days as the candidates were most likely to come out of their comfort zones soon.

Though Bilawal Bhutto is spearheading PPP’s election campaign in the interior Sindh, a lackluster electioneering in Punjab is conspicuous by absence of party’s central leadership.

Senior PPP leader Ch Manzoor said that Bilawal Bhutto had plans to visit Punjab most probably in the middle of July to galvanize party’s election campaign. He said PPP candidates had started door-to-door campaign in their respective constituencies and were in touch with the electorate. 

Meanwhile, there are also reports from certain constituencies about disagreement over setting up of election offices among the candidates from the same party. Candidates contesting on two provincial seats under a National Assembly constituency are expecting the party ticket holder on the national seat to make this arrangement for them.

Some candidates have also complaints against district administrations removing their banners from different places for odd reasons.

Election campaign will come to an end on the midnight between July 23 and July 24. For the next 21 days PTI has planned 18 election rallies across the country. PTI chief Imran Khan started his party’s election campaign by addressing a workers’ convention at Islamabad on Sunday last. He also addressed election rallies at Bannu and Sargodha on Monday and Tuesday respectively. 

On the other hand, the PML-N seems to be in a state of dilemma to start its election campaign in the absence of Mian Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz who are in London to look after Begum Kalsoom Nawaz.  It has not planned any big rallies in Punjab though a few workers’ conventions are on the card. Party President Shehbaz Sharif is scheduled to address these conventions at Kasur, Sahiwal and Sheikhupura this week.

Of late, PML-N’s ticket holders from three districts ditched the party leadership by returning party tickets. This has multiplied leadership’s problem because the party did not field covering candidates in these districts.

 

 

Election mania missing from electoral scene

 

MUBASHIR HASSAN