BAHAWALNAGAR, Oct 2: Political heavyweights here have forged cross-party alliances to secure victory in four national and eight provincial assembly constituencies of the district.
The election scenario has so far been devoid of the traditional election fever here. The many reasons behind the cold scene include the controversial code of conduct for electioneering. The one Bahawalnagar-specific is dominance of Birada0rism and intra-party rivalries which have eroded affiliations to ideologies and parties.
For instance, former federal ministers Abdul Sattar Laleka and Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor have deserted their party, PML-N, and jumped on the official bandwagon of PML-QA to have access to the power corridors yet again. However, they are vehemently opposing each other back home.
Likewise, Ali Akbar Waince of PPP, who notched the office of district Nazim with the support of Sattar Laleka, has now joined the Chaudhry Ghafoor camp. Mumtaz Ahmed Matiana of PPP who was Chaudhry Ghafoor’s candidate for the district’s top office is now a staunch supporter of Sattar Laleka.
Some 25 candidates are in the run for the four NA seats and 66 for the eight PA seats in the district.
NA-188 (Bahawalnagar-I) comprises mainly rural areas, where five candidates in the run are Ahmed Farid Chishti (PML-N), Syed Mohammad Asghar Shah (PML-Q), Maulana Moeenuddin Wattoo (MMA), Mian Akram Wattoo (PPP) and Mohammad Akhtar Khadim (independent).
Mr Shah left the PPP to join the PML-Q at the eleventh hour and Akram Wattoo, who was lobbying for the most sought after Q-League ticket, had to opt for PPP. Mr Shah is in a better position right now. The PML-N candidate is not being considered a potential winner while the Wattoos of PPP and MMA are said to be dividing their clan votes among themselves.
In PP-277 (Bahawalnagar-I), Mian Khadim Hussain of PML-QA is in a position to stage a comeback to the provincial assembly for the fifth time. The others here are Sheikh Talat Mehmood of PPP, Allama Mohammad Rafiq of MMA and Mian Hamid Hassan of PML-N. Mr Khadim’s arch-rival Sardar Khan is out of the electoral arena due to the educational bar.
In PP-278 (Bahawalnagar-II), main contestants are Syed Nazar Mehmood Shah of National Alliance, Mian Zubair Khan Laleka of PML-N and Mian Tariq Amin Hotiana of PML-QA. Pir Iftikhar Chishti of PPP, Khalid Mehmood of MMA and Mohammad Ashraf Joya of PAT have no chance of election.
NA-189 (Bahawalnagar-II) has become the most unpredictable constituency of the district, where the two main contestants, Mumtaz Alam Gillani (PML-QA) and Mumtaz Matiana (PPP), are former party colleagues. Mr Gillani has joined the PML-QA after being denied the PPP ticket. It is being said that despite the somewhat ‘forced’ defection of Mr Gillani, a sizable number of PPP voters will oblige him on the polling day. On the other hand, the PML-N candidate, Prof Dr Noor Mohammad Ghaffari, has admirers of his intellect in the urban areas, but he is more or less a non-entity for the rural people.
Similarly, former senator and MMA candidate Alam Ali Laleka can also play spoiler for the PML-QA candidate by securing the anti-PPP religious votes. Sattar Laleka’s support to the PPP’s Matiana will prove decisive.
PP-279 (Bahawalnagar-III) mainly comprises urban areas. Here, Rao Ejaz of PPP, Syed Qalander Shah of National Alliance, Maulana Yousaf Qureshi of MMA and independent candidate Nazir Ahmed Khan Akoka are the real contestants. Shahida Fatima, the only female candidate of the district, is also contesting from here.
PP-280 (Bahawalnagar-IV) comprises the riverine belt of the district. Asif Manzoor Mohal of PML-QA, the son of late deputy speaker of Punjab assembly Mian Manzoor Mohal, is being considered stronger than Mohammad Yar Mamonka of PPP and Ghulamullah Khan Joya of MMA.
NA-190 (Bahawalnagar-III) has nine candidates in the field. Prominent among them are Abdul Sattar Laleka (PML-QA), Sajjad Ahmed Jathol (PPP) and Mian Mohammad Rafi (PML-N). Sajjad Jathol is the brother-in-law of Bahawalpur district Nazim Tariq Bashir Cheema and Chishtian Tehsil Nazim Tahir Bashir Cheema.
The Cheemas wield a considerable vote-bank in the Jat clan of Chishtian Tehsil. Mr Laleka continuously remained a member of the National Assembly from Bahawalnagar from 1985 to 1999. However, this time, he is facing tough PPP and PML-N candidates. Another point going against him is that he started electioneering rather too late. Mr Laleka had to get his candidature cleared after a legal battle.
In PP-281 (Bahawalnagar-V), former MPA Haji Tahir Mehmood of PML-QA is in a sound position, although Malik Abdul Ghaffar of PPP and Chaudhry Hassan Murtaza of PML-N can prove to be tough opponents. Former MPA Hafiz Asadullah, of National Alliance, has a potential to prove a dark horse provided politically influential Sufi Akram does not oppose him.
In PP-282 (Bahawalnagar-VI), Mohammad Abdullah Waince of PML-QA, son of Bahawalnagar district Nazim Ali Akbar Waince, is enjoying a better position courtesy his father’s campaigning for him. However, Shahid Akram of PML-N and Chaudhry Azhar of PML-Z are also in the race.
Interestingly, the PPP candidate for NA-190, Sajjad Jathol, is asking his supporters to vote Abdullah Waince of PML-QA at PP-282 because both belong to the Jat clan besides being the relatives of PPP-oriented district Nazimeen. On the other hand, Sattar Laleka is supporting independent candidate Khalid Gulabka.
In NA-191 (Bahawalnagar-IV), a triangular contest is on the cards between Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor (PML-QA), Afzal Sindhu (PPP) and Ijazul Haq of PML-Z. Although the position of Chaudhry Ghafoor is relatively better against his immediate opponents, Ijazul Haq, the chief of his own faction of PML, is banking on his Arain clan votes. This situation can prove beneficial to the PPP candidate who is very much
in the contest already. Mohammad Yar Khan of PML-N and Prof Khalil of MMA will only disturb the votes of Chaudhry Ghafoor.
In PP-283 (Bahawalnagar-VII), the main contestants are Ghulam Murtaza of PML-Z, Irfan Shaukat of PML-Q and Shaukat Mehmood of PPP.
In PP-284 (Bahawalnagar-VIII), the contest is between Pervaiz Iqbal of PML-Z, brother of the Fort Abbas Tehsil Nazim, Mohammad Arshad of PML-Q and Khawar Ali Khan of PML-N.