KASUR: Despite clear cut instructions from the PML-N not to oppose party candidates in any constituency, workers and leaders in three constituencies of Kasur have stuck to their guns against party ticket holders.

All the PML-N ‘rebels’ are contesting as independent candidates but claiming to ‘gift’ the ticket to PML-N after victory.

In PP-176, former MPA Nadeem Yaqoob Seithi is contesting against PML-N ticket holder Ilyas Gujar. Seithi was elected MPA after winning elections in 2008 and 2013 from the platform of PML-N. Later, in 2018 a provincial assembly seat was reduced after new delimitation, the party denied him ticket and awarded it to Malik Ahmed Saeed. Seithi refused to surrender and contested the 2018 election against Saeed as an independent candidate but could not win.

The PML-N again refused him ticket for the upcoming elections for violating party discipline in 2018.

According to political pundits, Seithi is likely to take votes from his Ansari biradri or his personal support base. He may divide the PML-N vote bank being two times MPA.

The analysts say Seithi does not seem to be in a position to benefit the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf as the PTI vote is already divided between two candidates, Muzamal Masood and Nasira Meo as both are claiming PTI ticket and campaigning in the constituency.

Ilyas Gujar, who remained in parliament after winning 1988 and 1990 elections, seems a strong candidate. The factors supporting Gujar include Gujar clan, PML-N-dominated constituency, local support base and PTI’s dual candidates.

In PP-177, three-time consecutive winner of Ansari clan (2008, 2013 and 2018) MPA Naeem Safdar of PML- N is facing party worker Ilyas Ansari, an independent candidate.

PP-177 is the stronghold of the Ansari clan, and only once in the last five decades, in 2002, did a non-Ansari candidate win when the Ansari biradri was divided.Ilyas Ansari has been a close aide to PML-N MNA Saad Waseem.

Mr. Waseem and Safdar had sour relations for the last several years. Currently, Safdar is in the camp of Malik Ahmed Khan. Just to keep the party high-ups satisfied, Safdar and Waseem had several public meetings together. Mr. Ilyas, however, has so far won the support of at least 10 UC chairmen close to Waseem.

As per the analysts, Ansari, who is gaining momentum with every passing day, has landed Safdar in hot waters. Ansari may spoil the clan vote bank while PTI candidate Mehar Saleem Adv is also likely to snatch the PML-N vote particularly from the urban area.

PP -180 is one of the 11 constituencies where PML-N has a seat adjustment with Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party. PP-180 comprises union councils of Allahabad and Kanganpur.

Ex-MPA Ahsan Raza (2008 and 2018) is contesting against IPP’s retired Col Hashim Dogar, former PTI MPA in 2018, PP-171 (old delimitation).

Before seat adjustment with IPP, PML-N had awarded ticket to Malik Mazhar Rasheed, son of former MNA Malik Rasheed Ahmed and a close relative of Malik Ahmed Khan. Raza refused to accept the party decision and decided to contest as an independent candidate.

According to local analysts, Raza’s position got clear after PTI withdrew its candidate Haroon Ahmed Ali, a close relative of former foreign minister Sardar Aseff Ahmed Ali. PTI awarded ticket to Waqas Mokal, former MPA of PML-Q. Local support from Allahabad, which was previously with Ali, joined Raza, while Mokal already had strong base in the Kanganpur area.

Another advantage for Mokal is that none of the PML-N leaders, including Maliks and Ranas, announced their open support to Dogar despite seat adjustment.

Analysts says Raza would get the PML-N vote as well as Meo clan vote bank. The Meo clan is angry with PML-N as the party had ignored its candidate.

Waqas Mokal, son of former deputy speaker PA Hassan Akhtar Mokal, is also likely to give tough time to Dogar in terms of PTI vote bank, local backing and from electable family.

Similarly, Dawood Anees Qurashi, son of former PML-N MPA Anees Qurashi, may prove another spoiler for PML-N candidate Malik Rasheed Ahmed who faces PTI’s Rashid Tufail in PP-175.

Ahmed had step down from NA-132 for Shahbaz Sharif and was contesting for provincial seat.

Political analysts say Qurashi might divide votes of PML-N as he was working in the constituency for the last one decade against Tufail while Rasheed was new in the constituency due to fresh delimitations.

Dawood is the son of former MPA (2013 PML- N) Anees Qurashi, a retired bureaucrat.

Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2024

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