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PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif.—File Photo

LAHORE: At a time when elections are round the corner and a political party should be finalising its electoral strategy, the PML-N is facing an unexpected challenge of setting its own house right as many of its likely candidates, mostly former parliamentarians from Lahore, are canvassing against each other.

These colleagues-turned-foes are even hiring services of workers to speak against certain party candidates, besides financing some of them to file nomination papers as the rivals of their rivals.

In one such incident on Tuesday (March 26), PML-N workers from NA-121 held a demonstration in Naunarian Chowk, Nawankot, against Punjab Assembly’s former deputy speaker Rana Mashhood. They also planned a similar rally in Gulshan-i-Ravi on Wednesday (today) against what they called Mashhood’s inability to serve the constituents and his alleged highhandedness against a party activist.

Rana Mashhood, ex-MPA from PP-149, had got registered a case against PML-N Lahore chapter’s additional joint secretary, Hafiz Abdur Raheem, a resident of the constituency, under Telecom Act allegedly for running an SMS campaign against him.

After the police failed to arrest the accused, he offered to court arrest at Islampura police station the next day, appearing there along with hundreds of party workers.

Talking to Dawn by phone, Raheem alleged Mashhood was involved in corrupt practices and was siphoning off funds and jobs to Burewala, his hometown, at the cost of the constituency he had been elected from.

A close aide of Mashhood told Dawn seeking anonymity that ex-MNA Mian Marghoob was funding the agitation against the deputy speaker.

He admitted that differences among party’s former parliamentarians of the party were increasing with each passing day and the situation could aggravate if not taken care of by the PML-N leadership at the earliest.

He quoted ex-MNA from NA-125 Khwaja Saad Rafiq as saying that he would not let at least 14 MPs from Lahore to get party tickets for the upcoming elections. The names he quoted included Ijaz Ahmed Khan, Naveed Anjum, Allah Rakha, Mehr Ishtiaq, Rana Iqbal, Waseem Qadir and MNA Malik Riaz.

Similarly, a party leader said ex-MNA from NA-120 Bilal Yasin was against the two former MPAs — Ajasim Sharif and Khwaja Imran Nazeer — who contest polls from his constituency.

Same is the case of Sardar Ayaz Sadiq from NA-122 who reportedly says he will not contest the upcoming polls if Hafiz Nauman (PP-148, Ichhra) was awarded party ticket again.