Peshawar’s NA-31 polls to be a nail-biting contest

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  • ANP’s Ghulam Ahmed Bilour to give tough fight to PTI’s Shaukat Ali

ISLAMABAD: As the general elections draw near, a tough contest is expected in a number of constituencies as candidates from different political parties are flexing muscles for a conspicuous win over.

As major political parties have fielded candidates in important constituencies for July 25 elections, the situation would no more be different in NA-31 Peshawar-V where 13 candidates are in the run for general elections.

The candidates from major political parties include Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour from Awami National Party (ANP), Shaukat Ali from Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Muhammad Nadeem from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Akhunzada Irfanullah Shah from Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Muhammad Siddiqur Rehman Piracha from Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA).

Other candidates trying their luck in NA-31 are Ilyas Ahmad Bilour (Independent), Aurangzeb Khan from All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), Rooh Ullah (Independent), Shaukat Ali (Independent), Gul Reham from Pasban Pakistan, Muhammad Saqqaf Yasir (Independent),  Noor Hussain from Aman Taraqqi Party and Yasmeen of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan.

In 2008 general elections, this seat was won by Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour but during the elections 2013, PTI Chairman Imran Khan defeated Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour. Since Imran had vacated this seat, later on, Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour once again succeeded in securing this seat for ANP in the by-elections.

The total number of registered voters in the constituency is 390,211, with 223,574 male and 166,637 female voters. The overall registered voters’ number in this constituency in 2013 elections was 320,578.

The present data shows almost 70,000 more voters since last elections.

Ghulam Ahmed Bilour had won this seat for a record four times in the past, even defeating former prime minister and PPP chairperson Shaheed Benazir Bhutto in 1990 and other political bigwigs.

In the upcoming election, a tough contest is once again expected between Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour and PTI’s candidate Shaukat Ali because Bilour could lead only with just above 5,000 votes over the PTI candidate in 2013. Another factor for a close contest is that PTI has ruled the province during the last five years.

PTI this time has fielded Shaukat Ali, a former town Nazim, to compete with Ghulam Ahmed Bilour instead of Gul Badshah, who had lost the 2013 by-election against Bilour.

This constituency has a mixture Hindku, Pakhtoon and other races, but the campaign on social media and political integrity of voters predict that majority votes would be cast on party basis. Since other parties including PML-N, PPPP and MMA have a lesser share in this constituency, the main contest is expected between ANP and PTI.

While the candidates are diligently wooing the voters for a secure win over each other, the incumbency factor would benefit Ghulam Ahmed Bilour as the PTI candidate would be seeking votes on basis of their provincial government’s performance during last five years.

The contestants are moving door to door as the campaign gains momentum, pledges are being made once again and so are promises.

Viewing through the past, it has been the tendency of the KP voters that they discarded the incumbent ruling parties in last three general elections. In 1997, there was a PML-N led government that was replaced with MMA government in 2002 elections. In 2008 elections, MMA was voted out with ANP ascending the throne that was once again replaced with the PTI led government in 2013.

Seeing this tendency, there can be difficult times ahead for PTI but as the party has claimed to deliver during its tenure, the situation may be in its favour.

Similarly, the stature of candidates can also not be ignored as personal popularity and contact with people also matters much in our elections. Since it is a key constituency for Bilour family and ANP, they would be putting in maximum to secure the seat.

Political pundits have predicted a tough contest in the constituency in view of PTI’s concentration in the province and Bilour family’s contribution and sacrifices for democracy and this constituency in particular.

At present, a mixed response has been seen in this constituency but since it has been a stronghold of the ANP and Bilour family in the past, the experts see an edge for Bilour. Their longstanding political affiliation with the people in this constituency and repeatedly winning this seat may benefit them.

But, the other side can also not be outrightly ignored.

Whatever the trends and predictions, the polling day will finally decide who would sail through and emerge victoriously and who will be rejected by the masses.

 

 

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