LAHORE  - Revisiting the earlier decision of fielding Maryam Nawaz in NA-125 (Lahore), PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif has announced that she will contest election for NA-127 (Lahore) seat.

Her Punjab Assembly seat, PP-173 Lahore - has been retained.

Previously Maryam Nawaz, daughter of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, was to contest election in NA-125 (Lahore) as per the final list the party had issued on Saturday last.

But now, she has been awarded ticket for NA-127 (Lahore), a constituency which was given to party’s city president Pervez Malik.

In NA-125, the PTI has fielded a potential candidate Dr Yasmin Rashid, which the sources say, can be a tough candidate for Maryam Nawaz to defeat as information in this regard was gathered through a public survey conducted by the party to assess the wining chances of the PML-N candidate.

After Maryam Nawaz has been shifted to NA-127, the PML-N candidate Pervez Malik will now contest election in NA-125 Lahore although his pet constituency has been NA-127 Lahore.

Sources say NA-127 has been evaluated by the party as soft constituency for the victory of Maryam Nawaz who is being counted at present, a leading member of the party with a big clout and say in the party decision-making in every matter. She will face Jamshed Iqbal Cheema of PTI in NA-127 who, the party survey assessed, is a less strong candidate against Maryam.

Maryam Nawaz is starting her parliamentary politics by entering the election arena this year. Maryam had made her mark as a seasoned politician after she successfully ran the election campaign of her mother Begum Kalsoom Nawaz in NA-120 in the by-election of September last year after the seat fell vacant due to disqualification of her father Nawaz Sharif by the Supreme Court on July 28. NA-120 Lahore has been renamed NA-125 in the fresh delimitations carried out in light of results of census 2017.

NA-125 (former NA-120) has been a pet constituency of the Sharifs where Nawaz Sharif twice returned to the Parliament. Last time, Nawaz Sharif had routed the PTI candidate Dr Yasmin in the general election with a margin of around 40,000 votes albeit after a tough contest and later Dr Yasmin had lost seat to Begum Kalsoom in the by-polls with the margin of about 16000 when the party expected the PML-N lead beating the previous one. Then the PML-N had realized that the electorate will give more vote to the party as Maryam had run a very lively campaign for her ailing mother and voters will show solidarity with Nawaz Sharif against disqualification verdict. But the margin was squeezed for which the PML-N, among others, also counted the factor of candidates fielded in this constituency by diehard religious organizations that had together bagged more than 16000 votes.

It is pertinent to mention that during the last by-election campaign a number of development projects were launched in NA-125 on the direction of Maryam to solace the electorate that had previously faced serious hardships of water shortage, poor sewerage system, dilapidated roads and streets and traffic mess and other nuisance. They were also displeased with the fact that elected representatives of the party had never visited them after getting their vote. It may also be noted that in the last by-polls, the PML-N had failed to win the polls in both PP-139 and PP-140 which fell under the old NA-120.

The sources say this time round a hostile sentiments against the party were found in NA-125 side by side the voice by the party voters about switching over their loyalties. At some places voters were also annoyed with the former MPAs of the party under NA-120 and had announced to go against the party candidate for the NA seat in the next election if they were again fielded in this constituency. Sources say survey showed the element of religious minded voters going this time, more strongly the PML-N in this constituency after Mumtaz Qadri issue has been compounded by the Khatme Nabuwat oath of the N-League government. Dr Yasmin, who has served in the public hospitals of this Constituency for years, has actively begun her campaign in NA-125 while Maryam is in London attending her ailing mother. 

The NA-127 (Lahore) constituency mostly houses middle and lower middle class areas of Shadbagh, Misri Shah, UET, Baghbanpura, Pakistan Mint, Mahmoodbuti, Kot Khwaja Saeed and Daras Barey Mian.

The PTI candidate Jamshed Iqbal Cheema is entering election in NA-127 with huge preparations although Maryam Nawaz has emerged as a big name in national politics scene.

 

 

SAJID ZIA