With the results of by-elections often a foregone conclusion in favour of the ruling party, the only constituency that is creating some waves and holds some suspense is NA-48 with prospects of a tight contest.
Though crammed with candidates, the constituency seems a contest between the PML-N and PTI. The seat originally has been vacated by PTI leader Javed Hashmi. In the upcoming by-elections, the PTI has awarded the party ticket to Asad Omar while the PML-N decided to name Ashraf Gujjar.
As the final battlelines are drawn, local political pundits favour the PTI candidate in the elections against the one picked by the PML-N.
According to them, the PTI has picked the right person for the constituency.
“The personality of Asad Omar is an important factor. He is far better candidate than Ashraf Gujjar from PML-N,” said one senior politician from Islamabad.
The seat was vacated by the PTI, showing that it has an entrenched support in the constituency, a mainly urban area.
Another important factor that goes against the PML-N is the bickering in the party rank and file. The PML-N from the start was unsure about a suitable candidate after the fiasco committed by Anjum Aqeel Khan. He withdrew his papers and pulled himself out of the race, probably on the instructions of party high-ups.
He later told party colleagues the withdrawal was due to some miscommunication between him and Punjab chief minister. When he found that he was not instructed by the party top leadership to withdraw, he filed a petition with the ECP to restore his papers, but his counsel withdrew that without consulting him.
Now the party was not clear about what to do, whether to wait and see the outcome of his litigation with the ECP or name another candidate with the time running out for campaigning.
The party later decided to award ticket to Ashraf Gujjar despite Aqeel’s entreaties to wait until the decision of ECP.
Late on Monday, the party secretary general notified that Ashraf would be the party’s candidate, but ironically, the ECP allowed Aqeel to contest election the very next day.
The whole episode resulted in creating a lot of confusion in the party’s local cadres, who have not yet reconciled with the decision to award party ticket to Ashraf.
However, Gujjar is quite spirited sensing his victory in his own sense. In by-elections often the candidate from the ruling party enjoys an edge over his rival. Probably, this is the factor which keeps the hopes of the PML-N camp alive.
Another important contest is developing in PP-6 left by Chaudhry Nisar. The PML-N picked Sarfraz Afzal while PTI is banking on Wasiq Qayum.
Wasiq had given a tough time to Nisar in the May 11 general elections.
This is evident from the fact that it took ECP three days to do the counting and formally announce the results.
Wasiq also alleged rigging and manipulation by the PML-N.
Wasiq is has again emerged as the favourirte. First, because local pundits know that last time he almost got Nisar, and second, the PML-N candidate again faces opposition from within the party.