LAHORE - A close contest is expected between Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Sheikh Rohail Asghar and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Ijaz Diyal with the former having edge over his rival candidate in NA-128.

Though Asif Ashraf Jalali having support of Tehreek Labaik Pakistan is also in the run, the real contest is between candidates from mainstream political parties.

Withdrawal of candidature of ex-MNA Sohail Shaukat Butt and his support for the PML-N has given much needed relief to Rohail Asghar.

Ijaz Diyal has strong vote bank in rural areas in the constituency where Sohail Shaukat Butt is also influential.

His (Sohail Shaukat Butt) support has swung the balance in favour of Rohail Asghar who is already strong in urban areas.

Rohail Asghar won the last general elections by defeating PTI’s Waleed Iqbal with huge margin.

He bagged 119,312 votes as against Waleed Iqbal’s 42,561. Other notable candidate PPP’s Bushra Aitzaz managed to get only 6990 votes. But this time around the contest is not one sided, though Rohail Asghar is still having an edge over rival candidates.

Despite resentment against Rohail Asghar for not visiting the constituency frequently and growing popularity of Imran Khan, winning July 25 battle would be an uphill task for Ijaz Diyal.

Rohail Asghar is hopeful of returning to the Parliament again on the basis of unprecedented development works like improvement of road infrastructure, installation of water filtration plants and close liaison with voters. Supporters of Rohail Asghar believed that victimisation of Sharifs would cause people to come out in sympathy on polling day.

Conviction of Sharif family in Panama case and alleged corruption in mega projects and public sector companies has given hope to Ijaz Diyal.

He believed that his strong connections in rural areas (25 percent of registered 275,697), popularity of Imran Khan and wave of PTI would help him returning to the Parliament.

Awan, Gujjar, Rajput, Jat, Arain and Kashmiris are major biradris in the constituency comprising Shadi Pura, Salamat Pura, Harbanspura, Daroghawala, Rashid Pura, Fateh Garh, Nabi Pura, Angori Bagh, Sahuwari, Mughal Pura, Mustafa Abad, Ghazi Abad, Taj Pura, Katol Pind, Bhaseen, Lakhodair, Dhobi Ghat, Manawan, Rakh Chabeel and Hando Gujjar.

Two provincial constituencies PP-155 and PP-157 and portion of PP-156 fall under NA-128.

PML-N has fielded Bao Akhtar against PTI’s Farmaish Awan in PP-155. Nadeem Sherwani is contesting poll on TLP ticket.

In PP-156, PML-N’s Malik Waheed is contesting against PTI’s Mian Iftikhar.

PML-N’s Malik Habib Awan is contesting against PTI’s Javed Anwar Awan in Awan dominated constituency PP-157.