–PTI’s Fawad Chaudhary, Farrukh Altaf cousin-duo all set to win both NA seats this time around
ISLAMABAD: Out of scores of candidates vying on two national assembly seats, namely NA-66 and NA-67, and three provincial assembly seats of the Jhelum district, namely PP-25, PP-26 and PP-27, the real neck and neck competition seems to be within a few candidates hailing from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), according to local political observers.
The two dominant clans of Jhelum are Jutts and Gujars. For a very long time, these two clans have been the holders of public offices at various tiers ranging from MNA-ship to local bodies. The Gujar clan has numerical strength over the Jutt tribe and around this binary the politics of Jhelum revolves around.
On two national assembly seats, NA-66 Jhelum-I has a total population of 676,537 and 541,296 total registered voters of which 281,136 are males and 260,160 are females. In order to cater to the electoral needs of the half a million voters, a total of 443 polling stations and 1,265 polling booths will be established. 100 each polling stations are for male and female voters while 243 polling stations are combined.
The main candidates from NA-66 are Chaudhary Farrukh Altaf, cousin of Fawad Chaudhary of PTI, Chaudhary Nadeem Khadim of PML-N, Chaudhary Muhammad Saqlain who happens to be a former leader of PTI and is contesting as an independent candidate, Chaudhary Tasneem Nasir of PPP, Mehboob Ali Mujahid of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Pakistan and other independents.
In NA-67 Jhelum-II, which has a total number of 404,212 registered voters out of which 213,765 are males and 190,447 are females, a total of 315 polling stations and 971 polling booths will be established. 77 each polling stations are for male and female voters while 161 polling stations are combined, 504 and 467 polling booths will be established for male and female voters respectively.
The main candidates from NA-67 are Fawad Chaudhary of PTI, Raja Matloob Mehdi of PML-N, Chaudhary Muhammad Saqlain an independent, Syed Nauman Shah of Tehreek-e-Labaik and others.
Interestingly, Chaudhary Muhammad Saqlain, thrice elected MPA, was a notable leader of PTI but parted ways after being denied an MNA ticket by PTI. He is now contesting from both NA seats as an independent. Previously, in 2013, he contested elections from PTI’s ticket and bagged a sizable 63,000 votes in erstwhile NA-63.
According to many observers and locals, PTI is leading from both National Assembly seats while the divide in PML-N, that held sway in previous elections, is ever widening due to the allocation of ticket issues.
Jhelum district has three provincial seats, PP-25, PP-26, and PP-27. Fawad Chaudhary is the candidate of PTI from PP-27 as well. PML-N has given the ticket to Nasir Mehmood while Syed Asif Haider is a candidate of PPP from the constituency. From PP-26, Chaudhary Lal Hussain of PML-N will contest against Zafar Iqbal of PTI along with half a dozen independents thrown in the mix. Interestingly, Chaudhary Saeed, an independent candidate for PP-26, has the support of disheartened elements of PML-N. It is pertinent to mention that Raja Yawar Kamaal Khan of PTI has a tough contest against PML-N’s Mehr Muhammad Fayyaz.