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GUJRAT: The alliance of PML-Q and PTI has clinched 10 out of 11 seats (four NA and seven PA) of Gujrat district as the PML-N could survive on only one NA seat that was won by Abid Raza Kotla after a very tough competition with the joint candidate of the alliance.

Senior PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi had got two seats of NA-69 and PP-30 (Gujrat city-Kunjah) after beating his close kin former MNA Chaudhry Mubashar Hussain of the PML-N whereas Chaudhry Hussain Elahi, the scion of Wajahat Hussain, has also won on NA-68 against Nawabzada Ghazanfar Ali Gul of the PML-N.

The candidates of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) have also secured a surprising number of votes on almost all the seats of Gujrat district where Sahibzada Mehmood Awani took some 43,000 votes on NA-68 (Jalalpur Jattan) whereas Hafiz Farrukh Nadeem about 32,000 votes in PP-28 (Tanda) and Ijaz Ahmed Ranian of the party took 30,000 votes in PP-32 (Dinga).

The highest number of votes was secured by Pervaiz Elahi, the joint candidate of PML-Q and the PTI, on both the NA and PA seats as he took 122,336 and 75,000 on NA-68 and PP-30, respectively. He was followed by his nephew, Hussain Elahi, also a joint candidate of both parties, who took about 104,000 votes on NA-68.

The alliance of both parties had a clean swept till Thursday afternoon; however, the unofficial result announced by the returning officer of NA-71 created a stir when victory of the PML-N’s Abid Raza Kotla was announced with 88,588 votes against 81,538 votes of PTI’s Muhammad Ilyas Chaudhry whereas a disgruntled PML-N leader ex-MPA Hanif Awan, an independent candidate, secured some 37,000 votes and TLP’s Naeem Ahmed took 29,527 votes.

Analysts say had the PTI given the ticket to Hanif Awan on NA-71, the party would have won the seat quite easily as the final results also suggested the same situation. Both Ilyas and Awan were from Sara-i-Alamgir tehsil whose votes were divided between them which favoured Abid Raza of Kotla where he almost swept the polls.

According to the unofficial results, the PML-Q won two NA and three PA seats, namely Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi (NA-69), Chaudhry Hussain Elahi (NA-68), Shujaat Nawaz Ajnala (PP-28 Tanda), Abdullah Yousaf (PP-29 Jalalpur Jattan) and Pervaiz Elahi (PP-30 Kunjah) whereas the PTI won one NA and four PA seats, namely Faizul Hassan Shah (NA-70 Lalamusa-Dinga) Saleem Sarwar Jaura from (PP-31 Gujrat city), Mian Akhtar Hayat (PP-32 Dinga), Liaqat Bhadar from (PP-33 Lalamusa) and Chaudhry Arshad (PP-34 Sara-i-Alamgir-Kotla). The PML-N candidates remained runners-up on all the 11 seats of the district.

Punjab PPP president Qamar Zaman Kaira, once again, stood third in NA-70 as in 2013; however, his votes have improved from previous time’s 35,000 to some 42,000 this time whereas another PPP stalwart Tanveer Ashraf Kaira, a former finance minister, took about 13,000 votes and remained fourth in PP-33 even below the TLP’s candidate who got 15,000 votes.

In 2013, the PML-N had secured 10 out of total 12 seats with three NA and seven PA seats whereas the PML-Q’s Pervez Elahi and his scion Moonis Elahi had won the NA and PA seats, respectively.

However, main cause of the PML N’s defeat in 2018 polls is stated to be the seat adjustment between the PML-Q and PTI in the district as well as the serious differences among the local leaders of the PML-N and the party government’s policy of ignoring Gujrat in terms of uplift projects. The situation for the PML-N was further worsened by Hamza Shahbaz Sharif’s strategy of favoritism within party folds in Gujrat.

Though Hamza’s favourite, Abid Kotla, secured his NA seat despite annoyance of former MPA Hanif Awan but the latter’s opposition cost the PML-N heavily on at least three PA and one NA seats. Similarly, another disgruntled PML-N man, Aurangzaib Butt, who contested as independent candidate from PP-31 Gujrat city secured some 14,000 votes, causing defeat for the PML-N’s Imran Zafar.

Ex-MPA Mian Tariq of Dinga too faced defeat despite of having some 37,000 votes in PP-32 due to the opposition of his close kin, Mian Idrees, who contested for the MMA and took some 6,000 votes and Tariq was defeated with the margin of some 5,000 votes by PTI’s Akhtar Hayat.

The analysts also state that the large number of votes secured by the TLP candidates in Gujrat district might have also damaged the PML N’s position.

Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2018