LAHORE - The Pakistan Railways has virtually turned into PML-N’s campaign office as the minister yesterday was seen actively pursuing union leaders, employees and residents of Railways colonies to vote for PML-N candidates in NA-122 and PP-147 in upcoming by-polls.

Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique is also using Pakistan Railways’ public relation department efficiently to campaign for his party.

His efforts bore fruit as around 10 railways unions yesterday announced to support the ruling party in the by-polls. The announcement was made during a public gathering at Railways Locomotive Shed near Ghari Shaho Bridge.

The unions managed to gather a good number of people including employees of the railways and their families for the meeting. Railways’ public relation department invited the media to cover the event while later an official handout of the minister’s speech was also circulated in the media.

As per the ECP code of conduct and government service rules, union leaders and Railways’ employees could not openly announce support to any candidate. However, one of the union leaders, Inayat Gujjar, talking to The Nation, said that being the resident of the area, it was his political right to announce support to any candidate. He said that the meeting was entirely organised by union leaders and residents of the area and they had invited Saad Rafique.

It is being said that around 10,000 railways employees including their families live in Railways’ colonies in the area of NA-122. Their support to government candidates could be decisive for the election results.

Besides Khawaja Saad Rafique, the ruling party candidate Ayaz Sadiq, PML-N Waqas Sheikh and other PML-N leaders addressed the gathering.

As per the Railways’ handout, Khawaja Saad said that Imran Khan leveling baseless allegations could not be allowed to misguide people. The statement quoted as Saad Rafique asking Khan to inform the public about his tax returns being a resident of a 300 kanal house in Banigala Islamabad.

“Being an enemy of Lahore’s development, how can Khan ask for votes from Lahore,” the statement further quoted the minister.

“Keeping in mind the Railways’ performance in PML-N’s so far in two-year rule, the Railways workers will vote for lion (the electoral symbol of PML-N),” he held, as per the official statement.

The Railways’ Loco Running Union leader Tariq Mahmood on behalf of other unions announced the support of PML-N at stage. The unions who supported Ayaz Sadiq include Rail Mazdoor Union, Civil Engineers’ Association, Loco Running Union, Rail Mazdoor Ittehad, Supervisors’ Welfare Association, Labour Union Workshop, Clerkical Staff Union, Workers’ Union Workshop, Jenay Do Union, Prem Union (Aasi Group) and other.