GUJRAT: Wazirabad, the city of cutlery, wears elections colors as an army of political lieutenants from different parties have been working overtime on the streets and in adjoining rural areas of the town for over a week.
They are part of electioneering for the Feb 19 by-polls for PP-51, which will end late Feb 17. The seat was vacated after the death of PML-N MPA Shaukat Manzoor Cheema last year.
PML-N’s Talat Shaukat Cheema (widow of the former MPA), PTI’s Yousaf Araen, Jamaat-i-Islami’s Nasir Mehmood Kalair and TLP’s Sufi Nasir Jowinda are in the run for the seat.
The nominees of the PML-N and the PTI are, however, putting in great efforts to lure voters by engaging lawmakers, former ticket holders, and party officials from Gujrat, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Hafi zabad and Mandi Bahauddin. Sources say a Punjab minister remained in Wazirabad for the campaign of the ruling party candidate for many days whereas other ministers and senior officials of the provincial and federal governments also held meetings with the notables of the area on different days.
They have entertained the demands of the people to muster their support for the PTI candidate. They said Chief Minister Usman Buzdar would visit Gakhar Mandi on Wednesday and the visit may influence theposition of the PTI campaign in Wazirabad. Though Gakhar Mandi is not part of the PP-51 constituency, the town is a second major urban center of Wazirabad tehsil.
PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz also delivered fi ery speeches in Wazirabad city and Sohdra. JI emir Senator Sirajul Haq also spoke to an election rally in Wazirabad on Feb 14. A local official of the Cutlery and Stainless Utensils Makers Association said that the government had accepted their long-standing demands regarding provision of facilities in industrial estates and arranging training for human resources of the local cutlery industry.
Being happy with the government, the cutlery industry has arranged a labour convention in support of PTI candidate. Ali Cheema, a resident of the constituency, said that the position of PTI candidate had improved in the last couple of weeks after the government resolved their long standing issues, which the PML-N never resolved despite being in power for consecutive two terms.
Now, the people think that giving vote to the ruling party may resolve the issues.Former MPA Ijaz Samman, Punjab PPP vice president, who withdrew his nomination papers, said that the PML-N would have to bring out its voters and be vigilant at polling stations keeping in view the hectic efforts of the “state machinery in favour of ruling party”.
Some local analysts said that the price hike, unemployment, and governance haunted the ruling party candidate in the campaign. The PML N has been winning the Wazirabad seat for the last three times, however, the PTI being in power is in a better position to give a tough fight to the PML-N.
Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2021