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SAHIWAL: The PML-N, in a surprise move, has ditched its electable, Rai Mansib Ali Dogar, who had won the previous two elections for the party from NA-145, Pakpattan I, (erstwhile NA-164) with a big margin.

This includes the 2008 election held during the Gen Musharraf regime when the PPP formed government in the centre.

The party has awarded ticket to Ahmed Raza Maneka, former brother-in-law of Bushra Begum, the wife of PTI’s chairman Imran Khan.

The PML-N local workers are baffled at their leadership’s move, which, for them, defies logic.

Leaves Mansib in favour of Maneka

It’s a million dollar question why Shahbaz Sharif and Hamza Shahbaz ditched Rai Mansib who was a strong candidate and was likely to win the election and went for Maneka who had joined the party a couple of months back.

An insider in the PML-N says Rai Mansib is angry not only at the final decision of the party but also the way Shahbaz and Hamza brought him to the point of no return for breaking his 12 years old affiliation with the party. He has also withdrawn his nephew, Waqas Ali Dogar, and made him return the PML-N ticket for PP-193.

It is learnt PML-N district and tehsil office-bearers protested against the party leadership three days back when Hamza, in a meeting in Lahore, asked Rai Mansib to leave the slot for Ahmed Raza Maneka. Now the party workers in the constituency are in a state of shock.

The source says that Rai Mansib has called a meeting of local party office-bearers, his allies and elders of Gujjar, Rajput, Chishti and Arain clans to decide his future fate. The source said the PML-N had offered him to contest election on PP-193 which he flatly refused.

“After being elected twice as MNA how can I contest election from same constituency on a provincial seat?” he had asked the PML-N high command.

Pir Imdad, president Pakpattan Press Club, says Mansib will contest election as an independent candidate from both national and provincial assembly seats. Interestingly, Mansib has no chance of going to the PTI which has nominated Muhammad Shah Khagga for NA-145, a runner-up against him in 2008 and 2013 elections.

The PML-N is now finding it hard to find suitable candidates for PP-193 and PP-192.

The local political analysts think that because of Mansib’s going independent, it will become difficult for the PML-N and Maneka to win the election. The party rift will benefit other candidates, including Muhammad Shah Khagga.

In PP-192, the PTI has nominated Mahar Moeenuddin Chishti, instead of Dewan Azmat Chishti. Moeenuddin was a runner-up in 2008 from the constituency that was PP-228 (now PP-193) on a PPP ticket.

He had joined the PTI two weeks back by using his connections with Pir of Golra Sharif in Rawalpindi.

The local PTI circles believe that Imran Khan’s new wife Bushra Begum influenced the party’s decision on the PP-193 ticket for Mahar Moeenuddin Chishti.

Salman Mohsin Gillani and his father-in-law, Ather Hussain Shah Gillani,

had won 2008 and 2013 election, respectively, on PML-N tickets from NA 165-Pakpattan II. They have a strong followings because of being custodians of Qaboola Sharif.

They launched and registered an independent political party under the name of Pakistan Human Party in 2012.

Today this party launched its two candidates – Zulficar Rath and Mustafa Gilani – from NA-145 and NA-146, respectively. The support of this party might be a decisive factor for the election on both constituencies.

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2018