lahore -

After the 2008 general elections which saw the PML-N candidate scoring a resounding victory over his rivals in NA-121, ground realities have changed considerably in this congested locality of Lahore where the lower class and the lower middle class constitute majority of the electorate.

The emergence of the PTI as a new political force and re-entry of JI and the former into the electoral politics are the two major factors which might influence the voting pattern in this constituency on May 11. Both parties had boycotted the 2008 elections from the platform of APDM.

NA-121 (Lahore) is a constituency with a mix of urban and rural areas, also with a low literacy rate compared to other constituencies in the City. Though majority of the population consists of lower class and the lower middle class, a politically vibrant middle class is also there in the constituency.

It covers the areas of Sabzazar, Bakar Mandi, Band Road, Chowk Yateem Khana, Gulshan Ravi, Riwaz Garden, Sanda Khurd, Sanda Kalan, Chauburji, Abu Bakar Park, Shamnagar, Gulshan Ravi and parts of Samanabad.

The Arain, Rajput, Niazi and Pathan clans had been playing an important role in the victory and defeat of the candidates in the previous elections.

The PML-N has fielded Maher Ishtiaq this time form NA-121 instead of Mian Marghoob who won this seat in 2008. He belongs to Arain Biradari. Ishtiaq, who returned to Punjab Assembly in 2008 elections, enjoys good reputation in the area. He is banking on the PML-N popularity and the Arain vote bank in his constituency.

Aurangzaib Barki of the PPP is again in the contest after two successive defeats in 2002 and 2008. He, however, improved his vote count in the last election. Apart from some good work done in the constituency, Barki is mainly relying for his success on the possible vote split among the candidates of the PML-N, the PTI and the JI.

Farid Paracha of JI, who won this seat in 2002, is also in the run.

According to some surveys and assessments, JI has got some 8,000 to 10,000 votes in NA-121. Given this much support, Mr Paracha is less likely to make any upset this time without seat adjustment with JI’s natural ally, the PML-N. He had won this seat in 2002 with the blessings of the PML-N which withdrew its candidate in his favour. He was previously a member of Provincial Assembly of the Punjab from 1990-1993.

PTI has given its ticket to a young energetic lawyer–Barrister Hammad Azhar who happens to be the son of PTI leader and once the head of PML-Q, Mian Muhammad Azhar. Besides the newly-created PTI vote bank, which is yet to be gauged, Hammad is also expecting to get a major share out of the Arain vote bank in constituency which is likely to be divided between the PML-N and the PTI candidates. Both belong to this dominant clan in the constituency.

The vote split among the PML-N, the PTI and JI candidates in this constituency would benefit the PPP candidate Auranzaib Barki who is in the race for the third consecutive time.

Perhaps fearing such an eventuality, the PML-N and the JI are currently engaged in talks to make seat adjustment here. It has been learnt that JI wants to surrender the two provincial seats falling under NA 121—PP 149 and 150 to the PML-N, and, in return would like the PML-N to vacate the National Assembly seat—NA 121 for its candidate Farid Paracha.

It is to be mentioned here that the PML-N candidate from NA-121, Mehr Ishtiaq is also contesting from provincial constituency—PP 150 falling under NA-121.

The two parties are yet to reach any agreement in this constituency.

In 2008 election, the PML-N candidate Mian Marghoob won this seat by securing 72227 votes. Aurangzeb Shaafi Burki of PPP was the runner up with 27934 votes while Mian Muhammad Asif of the PML-Q stood third getting 7559 .

In 2002, Jamat e Islami candidate Farid Ahmad Paracha won from NA 121 on MMA ticket by defeating the PPP and PML-Q candidates. He was then backed by PML-N. Paracha then secured 30326 votes.

Mian Muhammad Jehangir of PML-Q grabbed 17956. Aurangzeb Barki stood third with 15778 votes while Faiz Rahim Khan of PML-Z got 12098 Votes.

PP 149

The PPP has pitted Nader Khan, a first timer, against Rana Mashhood of the PML-N, Mian Akram Usman of the PTI and Shahid Navid Malik of the JI. Rana is ex-Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Assembly. Akram Usman is son of former JI MNA, Mian Usman. JI’s Shahid Malik is a new face for the people of this constituency. A tough contest is expected in PP-149. The PPP candidate, Nadir Khan, formerly a JI activist, may take advantage of the vote divide among the three parties.

Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan of the PML-N won this seat in 2008 by getting 36,223 votes. Pir Syed Nazim Hussain Shah of the PPPP secured 15,464 votes while Malik Habib Ullah of the PML-Q got 3,254.

PP 150

Mehr Ishtiaq Ahmad of the PML-N won this seat in 2008 and he is again in the run from here besides NA-121. He had got 34,014 votes. Asif Mahmood Nagira of the PPP who got 12,686 votes in 2008 is contesting for the second time.

The PTI has fielded Maher Wajid who is a novice in electoral politics. The JI has withdrawn its candidate Anwar Gondal unilaterally. Maher Ishtiaq stands better chance of securing victory over his rivals from this provincial constituency.