Sher Gondal

MANDI BAHAUDDIN

About 11 candidates including two Independents are in the run for by-election to NA-108. They include Iftikharul Hassan of JUP-F, Asif Bhagat of PPP, Hamza Nasir Iqbal of PML-Q, Raja Shehzad Mehmood Saddiqi of Rah-e-Haq party, Saif Ullah Mangat Independent, Muhammad Azam of PAT, Riaz Farooq Sahi of JI, Muhammad Tariq Tarar of PTI, Muhammad Nawaz Tarar Independent, Mumtaz Tarar of the PML-N, and Nosherwan Umar Tarar Independent. The polling for the by-election is scheduled to be held on June 8. Electioneering is gaining momentum with every passing day.

In May 2013 general elections, PML-N candidate Mumtaz Tarar secured 73,679 votes and was defeated by Independent candidate Ijaz Chaudhry who bagged 84,008 votes. However, the Election commission declared the constituency vacant after the winning candidate who later joined the PML-N defected to PTI and ordered re-election in the constituency. On the other hand, the side-by-side with election campaign PML-N is busy making deals to avoid defeat.

In 2013 PML-N did not grant party ticket to Dewan Mushtaq and Ijaz Chaudhry. At which both the leader deserted the party and made their separate group to contest election independently. Ijaz Chaudhry became candidate for NA-108 seat while Dewan Mushtaq was candidate for PP-116 seat. Ijaz won the election but Dewan lost it, securing 19650 votes while his rival Hameeda Waheed secured 52,826. Later they both with their supporters joined PTI.

PTI also did not grant them ticket for by-election and due to this they both said good-bye to it. Dewan Mushtaq then approached the PML-N top leadership and struck a deal under which he would support the PML-N candidate in by-election. In return PMLN made his daughter Faiza Dewan MPA on reserve seat for women. So this way vote bank of PML-N has strengthened and chances of success for its candidate Mumtaz Tarar have increased.

Tariq Tarar contested 2013 general elections on the PPP ticket and secured 28,861 votes. He was on third position after Mumtaz Tarar. He left the PPP and joined the PTI. In 2013 elections, PTI candidate Zafar Ullah Tarar secured 23,359 votes and remained fourth. Due to its increased activities PTI voters have increased. Besides, performance of PML-N in the district has been disappointing. Due to these factors position of PTI is strong enough to give a tough time to it rival. The PPP candidate Asif Bhagat had been the party’s MPA during 2008 to 2013 from PP-117. This time he is contesting election for NA-108 seat on the PPP ticket. PPP vote bank is stable but its fate is not clear. PML-Q candidate Hamza Nasir is a youth and well-educated; his party has strong lobbies in every locality. His success depends on activating these lobbies to their full capacity.

Similarly, the JI and PAT have large number of faithful but in the presence of PML-N candidate and candidates from other major parties, they have to work hard to come at par with them. Among independent candidates, Nawaz Tarar is very active. He has gathered a large number of supporters around him who are visiting all localities in the constituency to motivate public to use vote in their favour.

It is to be noted voters in general are not showing any interest in the election. Candidates and their supporters, however, are doing their best to mobilize them. Considering Mumtaz Tarar as Government party candidate, contractors, transporters, land grabbers, businessmen and opportunists are joining force of his supporters. Candidate from other parties have alleged that sitting MNAs and MPAs including Punjab Minister Hameeda Waheeduddin have been utilising state resources and machinery in the election campaign of the PML-N candidate. In view of poor response of the common man to candidates, turn out on election day is likely to remain poor.