Baqaul Mohsin/MUHAMMAD Afzaal Hameed

BAHAWALPUR - With a total of 161,805 male and 130,840 female voters, the National Assembly constituency 183 (NA-183) of Bahawalpur consists of 22 union counsels of tehsil Ahmedpur East where Abbasi, Araeen, Gilani, Sheikh, Malik, Qureshi, Bhutta, Raees, Sipra, Mahar , Daher and Jutt dynasties create effects on election resutls.

Ahmadpur East, Chani Ghot, Uch Sharif, Dera Nawab Sahib are the urban areas of the constituency. The voters’ turnout is recorded about 55 percent of males and 45pc of females. Politics in the constituency is different from other areas. It revolves around Bahawalpur Nawab Salahuddin Abbasi. He has been elected as MNA from the area for more than three times. He is supported by Sipra, Qureshi, Gilani, Maher, Raees and Abbasi families. Without the Nawab’s support, no candidate can get victory in elections.

In General Elections 2002, PML-Q candidate Syed Ali Hassan Gilani was elected from NA-183 obtaining 51,435 votes and with a lead of 21,000 votes, mainly due to the support of Nawab Abbasi. The PML-Q leader was supported by the rural voters as compared to those of urban ones with the turnover of 42.10 percent.

In General Elections 2008, Arif Aziz Sheikh of the Pakistan People’s Party was elected with a lead of more than 30,000 votes by defeating Makkdoom Samiul Hassan of the PML-Q. Also the PPP candidate succeeded to win the support of Nawab Abbasi, with a turnover of 37.13pc. In the 2008 polls, Ali Hassan Gilani was disqualified for contesting elections for being defaulter of the Tehsil Municipal Administration.

In addition, the Gilanis are also politically influential in the area. Because of the disputes of Abbasi family, supporters of Abbasi have been divided. The Nawab of Bahawalpur who has won for several times as an independent candidate, has now launched his own party namely Bahawalpur National Awami Party that is working on one point agenda of the restoration of Bahawalpur province.

Former federal minister Muhammad Ali Durrani is also actively working for the restoration. Durrani is expected to contest the election from the area. BNAP’s Nawab Salahuddin, PTI’s Sahibzada Usman Dawood Abbasi, PML-N’s Syed Ali Hassan Gilani, who is also district president of the party, PPP MNA Arif Aziz Sheikh, Durrani and PML-Q’s Syed Sami Hassan Gilani are expected to contest in the upcoming general elections from the constituency.

However, two Punjab Assembly constituencies fall in the NA constituency. PP-267 consists of rural and urban areas of Uch Sharif. The total number of registered voters is 150,049- 83,246 of males and 66,803 females. The turnover in the constituency remains between 40pc to 45pc but it could increase now due to the registration of new voters.

The local politics is completely based on personalities. People of the area do not cast votes on the basis of election campaign or party affiliation but religious affiliation or relationships are the main forces behind their political support.

Makhdoom Iftikhar Hassan Gilani has been elected as MPA on the seat for a many times because of being a religious personality on various parties’ tickets. Likewise, PP-268 comprises urban area of Ahmadpur East, Dera Nawab Sahib and rural areas of Ahmedpur East. The total number of voters is 142,596 - 78,559 males and 64,037 females. The turnover here remained 41.41 percent in 2002 elections and 33.89pc in 2008 elections. Sahibzada Muzammil Abbasi won the 2002 and 2008 elections. Mian Usman Dawood Abassi has won elections here for several times and has been deputy speaker of the Punjab Assembly. Present MPA Sahibzada Gazain Abbasi is the son of Mian Usman Dawood Abassi.

Gazain was elected independently and joined the PPP. However, Dawood has joined the PTI during a visit of its Chairman Imran Khan to Ahmedpur East.