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GUJRANWALA: The ruling PML-N is divided into three groups that have started lobbying for their candidates for the slot of mayor of the Gujranwala Municipal Corporation (MC), Dawn learnt.

There are 73 union councils in the MC where the PML-N has won 52 seats of chairman and vice chairman, independents 19 and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf two seats.

The three PML-N MNAs elected from Gujranwala city have reservations over several issues for long that complicated further during and after the local bodies elections.

The PML-N group led by senior leader Ghulam Dastgir Khan, father of Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan, allotted tickets to candidates in NA-96, State minister Barrister Usman Ibrahim in NA-95 and MNA Mehmood Bashir Virk in NA-97.

Eighteen candidates for the chairman’s slot nominated by Ghulam Dastgir, 17 of those by Virk and 16 nominated by Ibrahim have won, while five independent candidates joined Minister Ibrahim’s group.

After attaining a clear majority, the PML-N had to nominate its candidate for the slot of municipal corporation mayor, which again highlighted differences within the party. Ghulam Dastgir nominated renowned businessman and former president of the Gujranwala Chamber of Commerce, Sheikh Sarwat Ikram. PML-N District President Chaudhry Mustansar Gondal, MNA Shazia Ishfaq Matto, MPA Abdul Rauf Mughal, Secretary Taufiq Ahmad Butt, MPA Pir Ghulam Fareed, former MPA Mian Mazhar Javed and many other stalwarts extended their support to Ikram.

State minister Ibrahim decided to oppose Dastgir’s nominee. His group has yet to finalise its candidate out of Aslam Ibrahim, the minister’s brother; Salman Khalid alias Pomi Butt, brother of MPA Imran Khalid Butt. Virk wants to nominate Rana Maqsood Ahmad.

Minister Ibrahim’s group has been strengthened after Virk joined hands with him. Both leaders met in the capital and discussed political scenario of the city and decided to unite for election of the mayor. MPA Imran Khalid Butt and MPA Nawaz Chohan have announced their backing for the group.

Both Ibrahim and Virk claim to have support of 40 chairmen without disclosing their identities.

Political analysts claim election for the mayor would prove which group had real power in Gujranwala.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2015