Yousaf Raza Gilani a tough candidate to defeat in NA-158

  • PTI’s Ibrahim Khan, Javed Shah of PML-N in race for the constituency

SHUJAABAD: NA-158 Multan-V has seemingly become the most sought-after constituency of the country where political heavyweights like former prime minister and Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) leader Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, former minister from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Syed Javed Ali Shah and central deputy secretary general of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Ibrahim Khan, are in a three-way face-off to win one of the most diverse constituency expanded in three tehsils – Multan, Shujaabad and Jalalpur Pirwala.

Gilani is one of the few PPP central leaders who not only chose to contest the polls on party’s symbol but has also run an impressive campaign with strong chances to win this constituency.

Following the new delimitation, the constituency starts from Makhdoom Rashid Multan city and includes Laarh, Qasba Marral, Mubarak Pur, Basti Daad, Basti Malook, Raja Ram, Sikandarabad, Shujaabad city, Chak-5 Faiz and Hamid Pur Kanora etc.

NA-158 (Multan-V) is erstwhile NA-152 (Multan-V) after at least 103,470 new voters were added in the constituency, and where the total number of registered voters has reached 436,391.

Facing tough circumstances in his original constituency NA-156, where his group faced defeat in 2013 elections at the hands of former agriculture minister Sikandar Hayat Bosan, Yousaf Raza Gilani has shocked local groups by announcing to contest from NA-158 for the first time in history.

Gilani has smartly influenced local heavyweight groups and most of them have announced their support for him led by thrice elected MNA from Shujaabad Nawab Liaquat Ali Khan, who was declared ineligible for being a dual national. However, the two candidates under Gilani for PP-220 and PP-221 are weak and have little influence in the area.

For PP-220, PPP has awarded ticket to Khurram Farid Khakwani while for PP-221, Kamran Marral is PPP’s candidate who enjoys support from his clan.

Gilani is charming locals with unprecedented development projects carried out in Multan under his tenure as prime minister. Due to his charm, PML-N Sikandarabad President Rana Akram, Ibrahim Khan’s group in Sikandarabad, Dr Farooq and Mohammad Ali Bhatti of PML-N Shujaabad have also joined Gilani.

Moreover, PML-N’s former MPA Makhdoom Rashid Rai Mansab Khan has also joined the Gilani group. Mian Waheed Bodla from Ibrahim Khan group has also joined Gilani.

On the other hand, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s rally in Shujaabad has failed to woo voters which could dent Gilani’s chances of bagging the victory.

The interior city of Shujaabad is evenly divided between PML-N and PTI voters, leaving Gilani at the trail.

Yousaf Raza Gilani is also facing a tough competition from Ibrahim Khan, the PTI candidate who has also served as a member of Punjab Assembly.

Ibrahim is also riding on the popularity wave of PTI in the constituency and has served the people of the area over the past decade. Ibrahim Khan, a transporter, is duly supported by his heavyweight wings that have their own vote bank too.

Rana Sohail Noon is PTI’s candidate for PP-221 who has a strong political background and has won twice from the constituency. For PP-220, PTI has awarded ticket to Mian Tariq Abdullah who has also won previously and enjoys support from his clan.

Former Water Minister Syed Javed Ali Shah is third in line who is putting up a brave fight despite all odds against the PML-N. He has a strong influence in PP-221 where he is duly supported by former MPAs Rana Ijaz Noon and Tahir Shabbir.

Though Rana Ijaz and Tahir Shabbir have been opposing Javed Shah for the past five years, an imminent defeat has united the three PML-N leaders who are trailing far behind in the race.

PML-N candidate Javed Ali Shah had won the slot in 2013 with 81,015 votes after defeating PTI candidate Ibrahim Khan, who bagged 64,611 votes. Syed Ahmed Mujtaba Gilani of PPP received 32,514 votes.

In 2008 general elections, PPP candidate Nawab Liaquat won the slot with 47,880 votes. He defeated PML-N candidate Asad Murtaza Gilani who received 11,923 votes and PML-Q candidate Mujahid Ali Shah who received 38,126 votes.

Two Punjab Assembly constituencies PP-220 and PP-221 are attached with the NA-158 constituency. The PML-N had won both the provincial assembly seats in the last general elections.

In PP-220, there is a close contest between Mian Tariq Abdullah of PTI, Tahir Shabbir of PML-N and Kamran Marral of PPP as they all enjoy support among their respective clans.

In 2013, PML-N candidate Rana Tahir Shabbir had won from PP-203 (now PP-220) with 30,396 votes. He defeated PTI candidate Tariq Abdullah who received 22,073 votes and PPP candidate Kamran Marral who received 14,718 votes.

In PP-221, Rana Sohail Noon of PTI enjoys support among the youth and has influence in the constituency too. Rana Ijaz Noon is posing a good challenge to Sohail due to his popularity for carrying out a number of development projects.

However, an anti-PML-N wave is impacting his chances of success while Khurram Farid Khakwani is far behind his opponents.

PML-N’s candidate Rana Ijaz had won in PP-204 – now PP-221 – in 2013 with 26,930 votes. He defeated Rana Sohail Noon of PPP who received 19,729 votes and PTI candidate Raja Tariq Javed who bagged 9,072 votes.