LAHORE - All major political parties have claimed victory in NA-120 by-election scheduled to be held on Sunday next.
Though 44 candidates are in the race under the banner of different parties, major contest is likely between Begum Kalsoom Nawaz of the PML-N and Dr Yasmin Rashid of the PTI. But the candidates of other parties including the PPP (Faisal Mir), PPP-Workers (Sajida Mir), Jamaat-e-Ismali (Ziauddin Ansari) and Sheikh Yaqoob, supported by Milli Muslim League, an offshoot of the banned JWD, are also confident about their victory.
The Nation talked to the candidates and leaders of the different political parties to know the basis of their respective claims about the expected performance of their candidates in the coming by-polls. They justified their assessments citing a number of factors.
PML-N foresees election victory of Begum Kalsoom Nawaz Sharif with a huge margin because it thinks that in 2013 elections, Nawaz Sharif had routed the PTI candidate Dr Yasmin Rashid with a huge margin of 39000 votes.
City President of the Party and Minister for Trade Muhammad Pervez Malik states that the party is poised to improve upon its previous wining tally in the September 17 by election in NA-120.
Pervez Malik, who is not actively taking part in the campaign for Begum Kalsoom Nawaz under the direction of the Election Commission of Pakistan, however, reckons the public spirit and the liking for Nawaz Sharif as main reason for the victory of Begum Kalsoom Nawaz.
He also gives maximum number to the campaign run by Maryam Nawaz Sharif for her mother. He states that Maryam ran the campaign in an organised manner and the fact this constituency had always elected Nawaz Sharif to victory since 1985, it can safely be said that voters in NA-120 is committed with the PML-N.
Pervez Malik said that the people are looking at overall performance of the PML-N government towards ending loadshedding, countering terrorism, CPEC and giving a right and concrete direction to the economy of the country which all appeal to the voters in NA-120 to vote for Begum Kalsoom Nawaz.
He said that the past performance of the PML-N under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif is also evident to motivate the people in NA-120 to vote for Begum Kalsoom Nawaz.
In his public appearances during his recent election-related visit to the City, AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, had predicted lead of Begum Kalsoom more than that received by Nawaz Sharif in 2013 elections.
Maryam Nawaz Sharif in her public appearance in the campaign is obtaining commitment from the people of the constituency for voting for Begum Kalsoom in the upcoming election. PML-N thinks that people have not accepted disqualification verdict against Nawaz Sharif and win of Kalsoom on September 17 will endorse this fact.
Maryam Nawaz is reaching out to everyone including, minorities, labour, women, traders and professionals through their respective wings in the party, which is the PML-N leader’s count, sure to pay the dividend.
Senior PTI leader Ejaz Ch who is campaign incharge of Dr Yasmin Rashid states that his party’s candidate will secure victory due to a number of reasons.
He said that Dr Yasmin had a better profile than her rival Kalsoom Nawaz.
Dr Yasmin is a diehard political worker who served as party’s Punjab Secretary General for five years.
She is accessible to party workers and voters unlike Kalsoom Nawaz or her daughter Maryam Nawaz. Kalsoom is not present in the field and running a proxy campaign. She was a student leader and later also led the Pakistan Medical Association.
She is renowned Gynecologist who served the people for three decades. Her philanthropist work also places her above her rivals.
She was Secretary General of Thalassaemia Society of Pakistan and President of Jahandad Society for Community Development, an NGO that deals with disaster management like floods, earthquakes etc.
She represents a different political philosophy unlike her rival Kalsoom Nawaz.
She will win because the three-time Prime Minister has not been able to provide clean drinking water and sanitation system to the people in his constituency which also lacks health and education facilities.
Dr Yasmin has an edge over Kalsoom because latter’s husband has been declared corrupt and dishonest by five honorable judges of the Supreme Court. It would be competition between those who stand for corruption and those who are fighting against it.
The PTI believes in peoples’ wisdom. Present-day media has made the public aware enough to distinguish between the honest and the corrupt.
PPP’s Faisal Mir is optimistic that Lahore High Court will strike down Election Tribunal’s decision regarding acceptance of Begum Kalsoom Nawaz’s nomination papers.
According to him, she would be declared ineligible to contest election from NA-120 because she has not mentioned the 16 foreign companies of her husband in her nomination papers. Mir thinks that the upcoming election battle in NA-120 would be fought between him and PTI’s Dr Yasmin Rashid and he would emerge victorious. The PPP candidate believes that he has been able to take along the old PPP guards who are running a door-to door campaign for him.
Sajida Mir of the PPP (Workers) said she will win because the people were fed up of the power politics of the major parties.
She, however, casted doubts on the impartiality of the Election Commission, stating it had given free hand to the major political parties by not taking action over numerous violations of election code of conduct.
Milli Muslim League backed independent candidate Yaqoob Sheikh has claimed victory in NA-120 by-poll.
“Although this is our first election but we are being welcomed in every area of the constituency. People want to get rid of the elite and corrupt leaders who did nothing for them despite remaining in power,” Yaqoob said while talking to The Nation. His basis of claim for victory was the slogan “revival of Pakistan ideology and service to humanity.”
Yaqoob’s campaign is very aggressive and he has opened around 100 election offices in the constituency.
He said that the workers of MML and his supporters were approaching every door and in response they had received very optimistic comment of the voters.
“Nawaz Sharif served as Prime Minister after being elected from this constituency for five times but the people here don’t have clean water to drink and the issue of sewerage also the worst here. Unavailability of education and health facilities were the other major problems of the area,” he added.
Yaqoob believed people wanted change and will vote for him so that their problems could be resolved.
He also believed that a large number of voters of the area had never cast vote in previous election but this time they will go to polling station to stamp on pressure cooker—his election symbol.
Ziauddin Ansari, a candidate of Jamaat-e-Islami, also claimed that people in large numbers will vote for him.
We are going door to door and requesting people to vote for clean leadership, he said.
The entire country knew that JI leadership is clean with not a single accusation of corruption on them, he added.
Azhar Rizvi is candidate of Tehreek Labaik Ya Ra Rasoolullah and his campaign is based on enforcement of Nizam-e-Mustafa (Shariah Law).
A party spokesperson said that Azhar was a very strong candidate against Kalsoom Nawaz because the people in the constituency believed Mumtaz Qadri’s hanging was a crime by the PML-N government.