At least 20 aspirants for the offices of Mayor/Deputy Mayor of Municipal Corporation and Chairman/Vice Chairman District Council Multan submitted their applications to the PML-N Secretariat in Lahore till December 20 the last date for application submission, indicating that a tough competition will take place to win Multan throne.

Since the PML-N has emerged as the party with a clear lead on opponents PTI and PPP after December 5 local government elections, there is no activity in any other party than the PML-N for Mayoral or Chairman District Council run. Instead, the PTI and PPP are learnt to have started efforts to bring a strong opposition to the PML-N in both houses.

The PML-N had swept local government polls in Multan as it won 80 Chairman/Vice Chairman Union Council (UC) offices followed by the independents, majority of whom were N’s rebels, with 59 seats while Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) could win just 31 UCs and the PPP 12.

Of 68 UCs located in the limits of Municipal Corporation Multan, the PML-N won 38, PTI 14 and PPP 1. The situation in District Council is also almost the same. Out of 117 member house of District Council, the PML-N has won 42 seats, PTI 17 and PPP 11. The PML-N had to declare 17 constituencies of Shujabad and five Jalalpur Pirwala as open due to a severe infighting in the party ranks on fielding candidates in these constituencies. Majority of the winners from these open constituencies as independent candidates are workers or local office bearers of the party and they are likely to join N benches in the District Council.

The manoeuvres by different PML-N groups to get their candidates nominated for the Mayor and Chairman District Council posts are in full momentum. PML-N sources disclosed that Mujahid Ali Shah, Wajid Ali Shah, Dewan Abbas Bokhari, Hasnain Bosan, Zulfiqar Dogar, Rana Shaukat Hayat Noon and Munawar Iqbal had submitted applications for Chairman/Vice Chairman District Council while Saed Ansari, Naved Arrain, Munawar Ehsan Qureshi, Ijaz Rajwana, Zahid Adnan Guddu, Akhtar Alam Qureshi, Rana Sajjad, Aslam Humayun, Nadem Akbar, Qaswar Bhatti and Imran Arshad deposited their applications for Mayor/Deputy Mayor offices.

Initially, Ansari, Rana, Qureshi and Arrain groups nominated their candidates for the Mayor and Deputy Mayor offices while Bosan, Dogar, Noon, Syed and Dewan Groups brought forth their men for Chairman and Vice Chairman District Council seats. However, the strength needed to win the big offices forced the groups to quit solo flights and make alliances. The PML-N sources disclosed that the Arrain and Qureshi groups have formed a group while and Rana and Ansari groups have formed another to get their candidates nominated. “They have set very simple rule for the alliance. If the candidate of one group of an alliance is nominated by the party leadership for Mayor or Chairman office, all the other members of the alliance will support him while in return the Deputy Mayor or Vice Chairman candidate of the other member group will get support automatically,” party sources confided to this scribe.

Earlier, the Ansari Group had brought Haji Saeed Ansari, a former MPA, as its candidate for the Mayoral post. He had won unopposed from UC-25 in recent local government polls. Similarly, The Qureshi Group fielded Munawar Ehsan Qureshi, who has also won unopposed from UC-60, as its candidate for the Mayor office. He is son of MPA and former Provincial Minister Haji Ehsan Uddin Qureshi while his group enjoys support from former MNA and city general secretary of PML-N Sheikh Tariq Rasheed.

The Arrain Group is led by former Provincial Minister Ch Abdul Waheed Arrain, who has brought his younger brother Ch. Naveed Arrain as candidate for the Mayor office. His group has won at least 10 union councils in recent election and thus became a very strong candidate for this office. Another probable for the Mayor office is Ijaz Rajwana, who is nephew of Governor Rafiq Rajwana. Although he is not proposed by any group as its candidate, yet he is being considered a strong candidate for being a kin of the Governor.

For Chairman District Council office, three very strong groups known in local politics as Bosans, Syeds and Dewans are in the run. Another new contestant, who joined the race for the said post, is Zulfiqar Dogar, younger brother of MNA Abdul Ghaffar Dogar.

The Bosans are led by Federal Minister Haji Sikandar Hayat Bosan and they want to get Husnain Bosan nominated as PML (N) candidate for the Chairman District Council office. The Syed Group was formed by MNA Syed Javed Ali Shah and the group has achieved big success in Shujabad town of Multan in recent election. Syed Group has nominated Syed Mujahid Ali Shah, cousin of group leader, as its candidate for the Chairman office. The Dewan Group is based at Jalalpur Pirwala town of Multan and MNA Dewan Ashiq Bokhari leads it. The Dewans have considerable influence in Jalalpur Pirwala area and they are making efforts to convince the party leadership to nominate Dewan Abbas Bokhari for the Chairman office.

A former MNA from Shujabad town Rana Shaukat Hayat Noon, who is father of MPA Rana Ijaz Noon and head of Noon Group, is also candidate for the Chairman District Council post.

Party sources said that talks were underway between Bosan and Shah groups for an alliance while Noon group was also in contact with Bosans. Similarly, Shah Group and Dogars were discussing possibilities for an alliance.

Meanwhile, all the groups also have established their contacts with the newly elected Chairmen/Vice Chairmen of union councils, especially the ones who won as independent candidates, to convince them to support their candidate in Mayoral and Chairman District Council run. Party sources said that the aspirants for the Mayor and Chairman District Council offices had also started making different offers in terms of cash, kind and offices to their voters to gather maximum support.