LAHORE - The local government polls in the cantonment boards to be held on April 25 will show voters’ trend concerning the mainstream political parties which are going to face each other once again in September for grabbing their share in the LG elections in other parts of the Punjab.

The local government polls outside the limits of cantonment boards in the Punjab will be held in September while the results of the cantonment board elections will prove to be a barometer of popularity graph of the ruling party and its major opponent, PTI.  According to the independent assessments of the upcoming cantonment board polls, the PML-N and PTI are most likely to be the main parties to face each other in most of the local elections on maximum number of seats. Both the parties have decided to take solo flight on maximum number of seats.

PTI and PML-N both have fielded around 300 candidates while JI has fielded nearly 88 contenders for various wards of the cantonment boards in the Punjab. PPP has fielded candidates or some of the cantonment boards of the Punjab while PML-Q could not field candidates.

However, a senior PML-Q leader, talking to The Nation on Thursday, said they would support the PTI candidates on most of the seats.

He claimed: “PML-Q does not consider the cantonment board local polls as a gauge of popularity of any political party because the local governance in the boards comes under the definition of “controlled democracy” and his party will become active in the local government polls in the province to be held in September.”  The PTI, because of serious infighting among the party groups, has already failed to get the support of JI in the Punjab, most importantly in Lahore. The JI which is PTI’s coalition partner in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has politely refused to extend support to Imran Khan in the Punjab.

A senior JI leader told The Nation that they had initiated dialogue with PTI for making some adjustments in the local polls for cantonment boards, but grouping within the PTI could not let that happen and leaders of Imran’s party even failed to devise a formula with JI in Lahore, politically and symbolically important for all the mainstream parties.

Narrating a story of one such meeting, he said, “If JI and PTI reach some agreement with Ijaz Chaudhry for Lahore, Aleem Khan refuses to accept the understanding and if Aleem recommends one candidate for the award of ticket, the same is changed by Ijaz. “How can we depend on such a shaky political arrangement which can neither benefit JI nor PTI?” he questioned. According to the polling scheme of the Election Commission, local government elections would be held in 20 cantonment boards of the Punjab in 114 wards with the missing link of Faisalabad Cantonment Board which has 10 wards.

No official of the Election Commission (EC) was available for replying to the query concerning the Faisalabad Cantonment Board missing from the boards’ polling list despite repeated efforts of this scribe.  According to the ECP polling scheme, the elections will be held in 114 wards of 20 cantonment boards. Rawalpindi Cantonment Board has 10 wards, Chaklala 10, Wah 10, Taxila 2, Murree 2, Attock 2, Sanjawal 2, Kamra 2, Jhelum 2, Mangla 2, Lahore 10, Walton 10, Sargodha 10, Shorkot 5, Gujranwala 10, Kharian 2, Sialkot 5, Okara 5, Multan 10 and Bahawalpur 3.  The number of registered voters in the Punjab cantonment boards is 1.313 million – 712,271 males and 601,449 females.  The number of polling stations is 924 of which 435 are specifically for male voters, 416 for female voters and 73 of the polling stations are combined. The number of polling booths is 2,712 of which 1423 are for males and 1,289 for females.

The number of presiding officers is 924 and assistant presiding officers 2,712, who will conduct the polling process.