ISLAMABAD: The ruling PML-N is likely to sweep the elections for Islamabad’s mayor and three deputy mayors, which will be held between 9am and 5pm at the Convention Centre on Monday.

PML-N fielded Sheikh Ansar Aziz, a friend of the prime minister’s, for the seat of the mayor, while Chaudhry Riffat Javed, Syed Zeeshan Naqvi and Azam Khan are contesting the seats for deputy mayor.

PTI, meanwhile, has fielded Raja Khurram Nawaz as its mayoral candidate. Ali Awan, Fouzia Arshad and Raja Zulqarnain are contesting the deputy mayor seats.

The ruling party is in place to win all the seats, as it holds 50 of the total 77 votes of members of the Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC). PTI, meanwhile, has 27 votes.

All three PML-N candidates for deputy mayor are from the capital’s rural areas, and made headlines during the submission of nomination papers due to widespread belief that they were chosen based on their connections.

Mr Javed, for example, is related to Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) Minister Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry. Mr Naqvi is said to be related to seasoned bureaucrat Dr Tauqeer Shah, and Mr Khan, according to PML-N workers is a close aide of MNA Malik Abrar.

Party workers have criticised candidates, claiming they were chosen based on connections

The party is said to have ignored workers while selecting its candidates.

“There were at least three local leaders, who have been associated with the party for over two decades and always stood by it during Musharraf’s regime, but influential [people] have been given preference over them,” a party worker said on the condition of anonymity.

At the time that nomination papers were being filed, PML-N Malik Abrar defended the party’s decision.

He told Dawn party tickets were awarded on merit, saying: “I agree, Riffat Javed is a relative of the state minister while Zeeshan Naqvi is a relative of Dr Tauqeer Shah, but that doesn’t mean they are not party leaders.” He also said he had no relationship with Mr Khan.

PML-N and PTI appeared to be putting up a tight race during the first round of the local government elections, when the chairmen, deputy chairmen and members of 50 union councils (UC) were elected, with over a dozen independents playing a decisive role.

However, PML-N came out far ahead of its competitors when it won over nearly all the independents, and now has 32 UC chairmen, followed by PTI’s 18.

These chairmen are ex-officio members of the IMC. PML-N also clinched 18 of the 27 reserved seats in IMC, which the remaining nine going to PTI.

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2016