The entry of Mian Nawaz Sharif in the contest for a seat in Sargodha brings the additional celebrity element to the hotly contested elections in the district. He was one in a crowd of 34 candidates who filed their nomination papers in NA-68 — showing the divisions between old and new claimants.

The local politicians usually try and gather the local elements against an ‘outsider’. If at all, the challenge to Mian Sahib may likely come from the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf candidate Noor Hayat Kalyar. The PPP nominee is Nusrat Ali Shah, who has never even been a runner-up in an election after he won in the 1985 ‘partyless’ polls.

Mian Sahib will have the 2008 lawmakers elected on the PML-N tickets in the two corresponding provincial assembly seats working for him. In PP-37, the PML-N retains its 2008 candidate, Sahibzada Ghulam Nizam-ud-Din Sialvi, while in PP-38, Shahzadi Umerzadi Tiwana has this time been promised a reserved seat. She has been replaced with Munir Qureshi.

The district has five national and 11 provincial seats. In 2008, the PPP captured two national seats and just three provincial seats, with an independent joining it after a by-election. The PML-Q won two NA and one PA seat. The PML-N took six PA seats and an independent winner later joined the party. The PML-N won one national seat. The Sharifs enter the 2013 contest much better prepared and the PTI is a factor to contend with.

In NA-64 the main contest is expected between the PML-N’s Pir Amin ul Hasnat Shah and the PPP’s Nadeem Afzal Chan. The presence of Adnan Hayat Noon in the fray could benefit Chan.

The Piracha family has fielded Hassan Inam Piracha, son of Inam ul Haq Piracha, in PP-28, which falls under NA-64. His opponents, Zobia Rubab Malik of the PPP and Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad Bharath of the PML-N hail from the same family and will divide the family vote.

In PP-29 Rab Nawaz Lak again holds the PML-N ticket. Mehr Ghulam Dastgir Lak who left the PTI and joined the PML-N just few months ago with the expectations of getting the party ticket is likely to contest as an independent.

The main contenders in NA-65 are the PML-Q’s Ghias Ahmad Mela and the PML-N’s Mohsin Nawaz Ranjha. A rift is reflected in the Ranjha versus Ranjha fight in the PP-31 constituency. Mela must have heaved a sigh of relief when the runner-up in the previous two elections Mehr Khaliq Yar Lak was not awarded the PML-N ticket. Mohsin Ranjha could benefit immensely if he could secure the support of Lak.

The PML-N ticket in PP-31 has been given to Manazir Ali Ranjha, against another aspirant, his niece, Madiha Ranjha.  Madiha and her mother Zafri Bibi are contesting as independents and will divide the family vote.

This is the same constituency from where the PPP’s Muhammad Aslam Midhyana had his nomination papers rejected. Midhyana was implicated in the beating of Nafees Lodhi, an elderly teacher. Aslam’s son, Muhammad Awais Midhyana had won the election in 2008 defeating Mian Manazir Ali Ranjha and his brother Mian Mazhar Ali Ranjha.

In PP-30 Tahir Sindhu is contesting on the PML-N ticket and he seems relatively safe in the absence of no known name put up by other parties here.

NA-66 comprises the Sargodha city and the adjoining villages. The PPP’s Tasneem Ahmed Qureshi won in 2002 and then in 2008. The Arain clan has a considerable vote bank here and Qureshi also got the party vote and support from the Ahl-e-Hadith and traders.

The PML-N’s Chaudhry Hamid Hameed this time has the support of the Awan tribe since Malik Shoaib, an important player, has joined the party. On the other hand, Tasneem Qureshi is troubled by charges of corruption and by annoyed workers. He will have to win back these elements and also hope the Jamaat-i-Islami candidate, Dr Arshad Shahid, remains in the race and cuts into the PML-N votes.

On PP-33 the PTI has nominated Ali Asif, son of prominent PPP worker Muhammad Ali Bagga. He also hails from the Arain clan.

There is a whole crowd of candidates vying for PP-34, creating the possibility of an independent sneaking in.

NA-67 truly belongs to Anwar Ali Cheema. Against all opposition, Cheema beat Zulfikar Ali Bhatti, then of the PPP, in 2008. This time Bhatti is contesting from the PML-N platform.

Cheema has not lost an election here since he first contested in 1985. Anti-Cheema groups have emerged here every time but they have all failed to dislodge him.

Anwar Cheema’s son, Chaudhry Aamir Sultan Cheema, has won repeatedly in PP-32. He is again in the run for the same seat and doesn’t look too troubled by the opponents.