JHANG - While there has been much talk that by-elections results would gauge the popularity graph of the self-acclaimed political elite of the country, the stage is set today (Wednesday) for a decisive political battle between the PPP and PML-N at PP-82 (Jhang) seat. While other candidates seem to be nowhere in the run for occupying the seat than the two belonging to traditional rival parties - PPP and PML-N - the situation has dramatically changed over the last two weeks. Earlier the PML-N candidate, Mian Muhammad Azam Khan Chela, seemed to be far ahead in election campaigning and hoped for bagging as many votes as to give him at least a fifteen-thousand lead over his rival from the PPP, Ghazanfar Ali Khan Jaboana. But the sectarian card that the PML-N candidate has been playing in this constituency seems to have badly affected his position. A banned religious organisation has been openly campaigning for the PML-N and this has infuriated the Shiite community here, which has a majority vote bank in this constituency. Though the flags and banners of the banned outfit have been removed from the PML-Ns election offices now, the disaster is done. Azam Khan Chela has lost some of his popularity among the Shiite community which benefited the PPP candidate. Jaboana now enjoys more support and it is being believed now that this is no more a one-sided battle. Moreover, the electioneering actively done during the last two weeks by the party stalwarts from both sides, including several flag-bearers from both the provincial and the federal governments, announcements of mega projects in the constituency, offers for lucrative jobs and the developmental schemes have surely lured a lot many to participate in the contest. Interestingly, the constituency PP-82 has four kinds of vote bank: Firstly, the followers of either of the two Pirs (Spiritual Leaders) Pir Shah Jeevna and Sultan Bahoo; secondly vote on sectarian basis; thirdly vote on caste basis; and finally political basis. Unfortunately, there is less political motivation among the voters and the vote is polled on the basis of the first three. While the sectarian card has played some of its role in a recent move and the PPP has convinced PML-Qs Parliamentary Leader Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat to support its candidate in PP-82. Faisal is now the spiritual leader of the followers of Pir Shah Jeevna and enjoys good public support here. It is yet to be understood why Abida Hussain and her daughter Senator Sughra Imam have not launched any campaign to convince voters for the PPP candidate. Both of them had contested general elections from the same area. Political pundits of the area believe if the PPP candidate wins the run, both the sectarian card and Makhdooms support will have a significant share in that. On the other hand, the PML-N candidate is not too weak to lose the contest easily. Azam Chela owns a large support in the constituency and had won the PP-82 elections in the general elections 2008 on a PML-Q ticket. Though some disaster has done for him, the disaster management has also been done so readily. In some of their recent public gatherings and rallies by PML-N leaders here, it was announced that Athara Hazari would be made a tehsil soon. Also, they have announced several other projects for the area. While the two candidates would be wrestling around the whole day to make their voters come out and poll it for them and this appears to be a tough match. The Election Commission has set up 319 polling booths in 127 polling stations of the constituency to cater more than 153,000 voters. Out of a total of 127 polling stations, 38 have been declared as sensitive. To avert any untoward situation in the constituency, more than 600 policemen have been deployed, which seems to be quite less a number. Also, there have been fears among the locals that there can be clashes between the two sectarian groups at the sensitive areas such as Rodhu Sultan and Rasheed Pur. The locals demand for active policing on the day, especially when the results start to assemble at the election offices of the candidates. Whoever wins the polls here today, this surely has become a contest and attracted people to participate, all thanks to the rivalry between the PPP and PML-N.