PESHAWAR: The political fertile Mardan district is all set to witness tough electoral battle among political heavyweights of mainstream parties on three national assembly constituencies on July 25.
As only nine days are left in general elections, political heavyweights accelerated campaign in Mardan where tough election battle is expected among former chief minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti of Awami National Party (ANP), former education minister Atif Khan of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), former federal minister Khwaja Muhammad Khan Hoti of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Ali Muhammad Khan of PTI and Maulana Muhammad Qasim of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), who are contesting on three different constituencies in Mardan.
A visit to NA-20, NA-21 and NA-22 Mardan by APP revealed that former federal minister Khwaja Muhammad Khan Hoti of PPP and former MNA Mujahid Khan of PTI are at loggerheads on NA-20 Mardan-I.
Mujahid Khan had defeated political rivals during 2013 general elections and comfortably won this constituency after securing 38,233 votes against runner-up former PPP KP president Khanzada Khan with 26,928 votes.
In 2008 elections, Khanzada Khan had won with 20,896 votes against MMA’s Tajuk Amin Jabbal, who secured 18,155 votes.
MMA Maulana Attaur Rehman had won in 2002 elections after securing 51,918 votes against ANP’s Habibullah Khan’s 14,462 votes.
The others candidates, who are trying their luck include Akhtar Nawaz of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Gul Nawaz Khan of ANP and Attaur Rehman of MMA. The constituency was formerly known as NA-11 (Mardan-III) from 1977 to 2018 and was later changed to NA-20 (Mardan-I) after the delimitation in 2018.
Similarly, a very close fight is expected between former KP CM Amir Haider Khan Hoti of ANP, former education minister Atif Khan of PTI and former MNA Shujaul Mulk of MMA on NA-21 Mardan-II.
Haider Hoti is being considered a strong candidate. He made his political debut in 2002 elections from a provincial constituency but could not make it to the provincial legislature.
However, in 2008 elections, Hoti managed to reach the office of chief minister by making a coalition government with PPP and successfully ruled the province till 2013.
In 2013, Haider Hoti, who had five years government at his back, had a very narrow escape to secure his home constituency NA-21 (former NA-9) at the hands of PTI’s Nasir Khan Advocate. Hoti secured 44,769 votes against Nasir Khan’s with 42,068 votes.
Atif Khan, a close aide of Imran Khan, is posing a serious challenge to Amir Haider Khan Hoti. He had served as education minister in the just concluded PTI government and remained undisputed and impartial in the PTI ranks.
Shujaul Mulk of MMA is also a strong candidate as he won this constituency in 2002 general elections comfortably. Shuja had obtained 54,479 votes whereas Abbas Sarfraz Khan secured just 15,376 votes while the PPP’s candidate Murad Khan stood third by securing 5,077 votes.
The registration of 83,536 new voters in the constituency would play a decisive role in the overall results of NA-21 Mardan-II. Other candidates in the run include Muhammad Said of Pakistan Freedom Movement and Mukhtiar as an independent.
On NA 22-Mardan-II, Ali Muhammad Khan of PTI, Jamshed Khan of PMLN and Maulana Muhammad Qasim of MMA are considered to be strong candidates for this important constituency.
Former MPA Jamshed Khan and former MNA Maulana Qasim of MMA are posing a serious challenge to Ali Muhammad Khan, who won this constituency in 2013 general elections after securing 46,531 votes against runner-up Maulana Qasim with 39,269 votes.
In 2008 general elections, Maulana Qasim again clinched victory after obtaining 29,279 votes against PPPP’s Abdul Qadir Khan’s 23,138 votes.
Maulana Qasim, who contested 2002 elections on an MMA ticket, had clinched victory on this constituency after securing 68,726 votes against runner-up Rahimdad Khan of PPP with 14,541 votes.
The other candidates flexing muscle are Malik Aman Khan of ANP, Ahsanullah of Tahrik Labaik Pakistan, Shoaib Alam Khan of PPP and Azmat Ali of PML-Zia.
The election fever has reached to its peak in Mardan where all candidates expedited door-to-door campaign and addressed corner meetings to persuade voters in their favour ahead of July 25 polls.