As the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) gear up to face off in the NA-122 by-polls scheduled for October 11, the suspense is almost unbearable. After PTI chief Imran Khan ignored the Election Commission’s bar on campaigning and started personally politicking for his candidate Aleem Khan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members have unanimously decided to personally oversee their party’s election campaign as well.

The NA-122 has become PTI’s Holy Grail as it has become the main arena that can provide the important constituency’s verdict on PTI’s obstinate accusations of rigging by the PML-N. When on the fateful day in August this year the Punjab Election Commission had ordered re-polling in NA122 and NA154, declaring the election in these constituencies null and void, PTI supporters rejoiced as if it had been declared that NA-122 belonged to the PTI. The reality is much different.

Being a local resident of NA-122, Sadiq is extremely popular in the area, winning the election thrice since 2002. During the 2002 election, Ayaz Sadiq won the constituency by 37,531, while Imran Khan received 18,638 votes.

Although the competition is fierce and PTI seems to enjoy immense popularity, charity projects by Ayaz Sadiq’s family in the densely populated neighbourhood of Garhi Shahu have helped build strong ties with local residents and he is still very much in the lead a week before election day.

The Returning Officer (RO) in the NA-122 constituency on Thursday has rebuked both parties for exceeding the limit of expenses allowed by the ECP for electioneering. All Lahorites are witnesses to the copious amounts of money being splashed on campaigning, from the automated individual calls to the huge banners dotted on the city’s landscape. While it is the traditional behaviour of the status quo parties to buy the peoples’ votes, PTI claims to be winning the voter’s trust and winning on the basis of this sentiment and not money.

Election fever is at an all time high at the moment where the PML-N has managed to gain the support of Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan-Noorani and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F). The PTI on the other hand has managed to win the backing of Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM) in the district and are hopeful of winning over the JI as well. Imran Khan’s rally today is expected to address the corruption scandals marring the PML-N family while Hamza Shahbaz has already taken jabs at the corruption charges on Aleem Khan. The excitement is quite palpable and this could go either way.