Former provincial minister and aspirant for the PML-N ticket for by-election to NA-153 Multan-Vl (Jalalpur) Rana Qasim Noon has won the tiebreaker against Dewan Abbas Bokhari, son of disqualified MNA from the constituency and another strong candidate for the ticket, as the party leadership has issued him the ticket, The Nation has learnt.
The PML-N sources confided to this scribe that the party leadership had given okay nod to Rana Qasim Noon on Monday afternoon to run campaign as the party candidate and he would submit his ticket to the Returning Officer on February 25. With the naming of Rana Qasim Noon as PML-N candidate, scenario of the upcoming battle in NA-153 has got almost clear. The PPP has already nominated Malik Akram Kanhu as its candidate while the Malik Ghulam Abbas Khakhi is probable from the PTI.
Political analysts believe that the issuance of PML-N ticket to Rana Qasim Noon could serve as a catalyst for a big change in Jalalpur Pirwala’s political landscape. “Although, Dewan Ashiq Bokhari is considering fielding his son Dewan Abbas Bokhari as an independent candidate, there are also chances that he might shake hand with the PTI in reaction of rejection of his son by the PML-N,” sources close to Dewans claimed.
Almost all the parliamentarians from Jalalpur Pirwala area strongly opposed Rana Qasim Noon and supported Dewan Abbas Bokhari but the performance of Rana Qasim Noon in previous elections and secret reports of agencies went in his favour, party sources claimed.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had also held a meeting of parliamentarians from Jalalpur including MNA Javed Ali Shah, disqualified MNA Dewan Ashiq, MPAs - Mehdi Abbas Langah, Naghma Mushtaq Laang, Ijaz Noon and others about a couple of week back to decide the candidate. Party sources disclosed that all participants of the meeting strongly opposed Rana Qasim Noon and supported Dewan Abbas Bokhari during the meeting on which Shahbaz Sharif delayed naming the candidate.
Sources disclosed that Rana Qasim Noon had a scheduled meeting with the PTI central leader Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Monday afternoon but he cancelled the meeting after receiving confirmation of his nomination. “Former provincial minister Ch Abdul Waheed Arrain picked him up and took to the office of a top district administrative office, where he talked to PML-N leadership through video link and then headed for the constituency,” sources added.
On the other side, the PTI leader Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi held a meeting of party leaders from Jalalpur including probable candidate Ghulam Abbas Khakhi at his residence to review the new situation. “We’ll brief party Chairman Imran Khan on the prevailing political situation of the constituency and the name of candidate will be announced by him on February 24,” Mr. Qureshi told the media.
The NA-153 had got vacated due to disqualification of PML-N MNA Dewan Ashiq Bokhari and a re-election in the constituency is scheduled for March 17. A total of 14 candidates including PPPP district president Akram Kanhu, Ghulam Abbas Khakhi of PTI, Nawab Muhammad Iqbal, Haji Ibrahim, Khawaja Saleem, Ashfaq Khakhi, Aslam Kanhu, Malik Ramzan, Muhammad Bukhsh Laang, Prof. Latif Ansar Lajpal and Dewan Muhammad Ali Bokhari have submitted their nomination papers. According to the ECP, February 25th will be the last day to withdraw nomination papers while the allotment of electoral signs to the candidates and their final list will also be displayed on the same day.