GUJRAT: The Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) has been doing its homework for fielding its candidates in Gujranwala and Gujrat region quietly as the camp of former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi may have a key role in the award of the party tickets for the next election, particularly in Gujrat and Mandi Bahauddin districts.

PTI sources say the former lawmakers belonging to the PML-Q, as well as the PTI, who did not leave the party in the wake of May 9 episode, will mainly be considered for the tickets in their respective constituencies. However, some new faces may also get PTI nomination in the region, they add.

The sources say the party is planning for the upcoming poll very cautiously to avoid any state pressure on the prospective candidates prior to the announcement of the election schedule.

The party’s panels for the six national and 12 provincial assembly seats in Gujrat and Mandi Bahauddin districts are also being finalised, along with the names of alternate candidates, in case of possible arrest of the original ones during or before election process, they say.

Alternate candidates also being mulled in case of arrests ahead of elections

A local PTI official told Dawn on condition of not being named that Parvez Elahi may contest from at least four seats – two of the National Assembly (NA) and as many of the Punjab Assembly (PA).

Mr Elahi may contest the polls from NA-64 (Gujrat-Kunjah), besides PP-32 (Kunjah) and PP-34 (Dinga-Mungowal) seats of Gujrat and one NA seat from Chakwal district, he says.

Similarly, he says, a member of Mr Elahi’s family could contest from NA-69 (Malakwal, Mandi Bahauddin district) as a PTI nominee against PML-N’s ex-MNA Nasir Iqbal Bosal, whereas another close kin of former CM may contest from PP-40 (Phalia, Mandi Bahauddin).

Former PPP federal minister Nazar Muhammad Gondal has been the traditional rival of Nasir Bosal in NA-69. Gondal had contested 2018 election as a PTI nominee, but he has already left the party and will be an independent aspirant in the upcoming poll.

In NA-68 (Phaliwa-Mandi Bahauddin), he says, PTI’s 2018 winner Haji Imtiaz Ahmed Gujjar is still the party’s choice, but at the same time an alternate candidate is also being considered in the constituency.

For the two NA and three PA seats of Kharian and Sara-i-Alamgir tehsils of Gujrat district, the party may rely on its former lawmakers like ex-MNA Syed Faizul Hassan of Kulewal (for NA- 65, Lalamusa) and ex-MPAs Liaqat Bhadar or his son (for PP-34, Lalamusa), Chaudhry Arshad (for PP-27, Sara-i-Alamgir) and former ticket-holder Chaudhry Ilyas (for NA-62, Kotla).

The sources say a disgruntled brother of PML-N ex-MNA Abid Raza Kotla, may be the PTI nominee in PP-28 (Kotla) against his brother ex-MPA Shabeer Kotla, whereas their elder brother Naeem Raza Kotla is also in the run for PML-Q ticket in the same constituency.

In PP 31 Gujrat city ex PTI MPA Saleem Sarwar Jaura or his son are the potential candidates for February 08 2024 polls.

Similarly, for NA-63 (Jalalpur Jattan-Tanda) a PTI old guard, Sajid Channi, is said to be favourite, while ex-PML-Q MPA Shujaat Nawaz for PP-29 (Tanda-Karianwala) and Tanveer Gondal for PP-30 (Jalalpur Jattan) may also be considered, they say.The sources says that apart from Gujrat and Mandi Bahauddin districts, Parvez Elahi camp has also recommended some ticket aspirants from Sialkot and Gujranwala districts of the region.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2023

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