LAHORE - The tough battle of ballots in 274 union councils of the Punjab capital is likely between the PML-N and the PTI.
Eying the PTI as its real ‘rival’, the PML-N is doing its best to retain its stronghold, though the JI has some strong pockets and the PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s recent visit sparked its reorganisation.
The by-election result in NA-122 and PP-147 Lahore is set to become a big morale booster for both the main parties in the LG polls.
The PTI, setting aside seat adjustments with any party in the local bodies polls, has fielded candidates in all the 274 seats of the provincial capital.
Dr Atifuddin of PTI told The Nation on Thursday his party fielded candidates in all the 274 local constituencies of the Lahore.
Although the PTI has decided to take solo flight in the LB polls, the local leaders of the party have been allowed to strike seat adjustments in consultation with local organising committee.
About the final list of the candidates, he said it would be made public next week.
The PTI begun to lose ground to the PML-N even before the polls as three of it candidates for the chairmanship had withdrawn their nomination papers, letting N-League candidates to be elected unopposed.
Among the unopposed winners also include Khwaja Ahmad Hassaan of the PML-N, who has been the Town Nazim during the Musharraf era, and this time round is in the sight for Mayorship of Lahore.
Another PTI candidate Jamshed Iqbal lost seat to PML-N candidate in UC-53 after his nomination papers for chairman slot were rejected. Nawaz Ch who withdrew in favour of Hassaan has joined the PML-N.
Although PPP Chairman Billawal Bhutto wants to show something different in the LG polls, a highly reliable source says, the party has failed to fetch the candidates on all UCs.
The source estimates the number around 100 UCs where the PPP has not fielded candidates due to unavailability. The PPP has decided to unveil list of the final candidates for awarding tickets after withdrawal of the nomination papers.
The PML-N is upbeat about sweeping the LG polls in the city. The party had received 4,015 applications for the tickets – of them 600 sought chairman ticket and 620 vice-chairmen.
The four zonal committees of the party interviewed and judged the worth of aspirants following which the eight-member parliamentary board approved 245 candidates each for chairman and vice chairman slots of the city union councils.
More than one aspirant for party ticket, it deferred final decision on naming the candidates for 27 UCs and left the contest open in two UCs – 251 and 271.
The finalization of chairmen and vice chairmen has been held back for UCs, 41, 87, 88, 149, 180, 182, 191, 194, 195, 226, 235, 237, 240, 242, 243, and 245.
The party has to be finalise name of chairman in UC 24 and names of vice chairman in UC 108, 116, 131, 174, 181 and 183.
Two to three candidates in each of these UC are hankering after the PML-N ticket and have also started campaign. The final candidate will be decided by Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, who is supervising the LG elections as soon as he spares time from his hectic activity in the Lahore by-election.
Sources say it is less likely that all UCs where more than one person urge for party ticket are left for open contest but only the UC would left to open contest between N’s multiple candidates where the party would be sure to win.
The sources say the party foresees many others of its candidates returning unopposed during scrutiny and after withdrawal of the nomination papers.