BAHAWALNAGAR - The PML-N is gaining strength in Bahawalnagar again after the party’s government was toppled in 1999 thereby compelling its heavyweights to change their loyalty and join the king’s party.

In Bahawalnagar, the “turncoats” are jumping on its bandwagon again. In the recent development former tehsil nazim of Chishtian Tahir Bashir Cheema joined the party. Cheema ‘s joining  of N also strengthened the party in NA-190 as he wields considerable vote bank of Jatt clan. He was elected MNA from the constituency in 2004 by-election, following the death of Abdul Sattar Laleka. Earlier, he was elected as member of provincial assembly. In 2008 elections, he was defeated with a narrow margin by PPP’s Abdul Ghafoor. Cheema  bagged 70,081 votes from PML-Q platform while Mr Ghafoor got 77,664 votes in 2008 election. Cheema family has deep roots in the people of Bahawalpur division, His father Bashir Cheema was elected to the Punjab Assembly from this constituency in 1951. His brother Tariq Bashir remained District Bahawalpur nazim and a Punjab minister in 1993.

The local people are considering him a strong candidate from NA-190. While in NA-190, the PPP will field Chaudhry Zafar Iqbal, a former senator, as candidate. In PP-281, Majeed Jatala and MPA Afzal Tatla would be PPP’s candidates for provincial assembly seat. Ghafoor contested election first time in 2008 and bagged 77,664 votes. He also remained in touch with the people of the area and extended remarkable services for the development of the area. Before Tahir Bashir Cheema’s joining of the PML-N, Ghafoor or his son was considered to be a strong candidate from NA-190.

Sources said that Tahir Cheema will contest from NA-190, while Sufi Muhammad Akram, a former tehsil nazim and MPA who belongs to Arian clan, will contest from PP-281. Sufi Akram has considered political influence in the constituency and is expected to attract “Arian voters”. Besides, Atif Matiana will contest from PP-282. However, speculation are there that Cheema’s participation may cause a rift in local chapter of the PML-N, as Ehsanul Haq Bajwa, a local leader of the party, considered himself as MNA candidate from PML-N platform.

On the other side, PTI’s tsunami seems to make no odds here as many political big-guns expressed regret over their jumping on the PTI bandwagon. In NA-190, Sikandar Fiaz Bhadera and Malik Muzafar Awan claimed to be the candidates of PTI for national assembly seat, while in PP-281 and PP-282, Chaudhry Kashif, former MPA and Ch Faisal, the president of grain market, claimed to be PTI’s candidates.