Tuesday, June 28, 2022

By-poll in PP-90 Bhakkar: Will PTI, PML-N vote for each other?

PML-N allots ticket to Akbar Khan Nawani, PTI fields Irfanullah Niazi, a cousin of Imran Khan

PTIs Irfanullah Niazi (left) and PML-Ns Saeed Akbar Khan Nawani will be contesting the by-poll on PP-90. — Photos by author
PTI's Irfanullah Niazi (left) and PML-N's Saeed Akbar Khan Nawani will be contesting the by-poll on PP-90. — Photos by author

On July 17, the control of the Punjab Assembly will be on the line, as the race for 20 seats in the province heats up.

In Pakistan's most politically important province, the PML-N is hoping to maintain its narrow control. Meanwhile, the PTI is aiming to wrest the province away from the ruling party.

Who could tip the balance in their favour?

In the run-up to the by-polls, Geo.tv provides an in-depth look into the constituency:

A profile of the constituency

  • Total voters: 249,306
  • Male voters: 132,725
  • Female voters: 116,581

The PP-90 constituency falls under NA-97, where PTI’s Sana Ullah Khan Masti Khel is MNA.

2018 winner: Saeed Akbar Khan Nawani won as an independent candidate in the 2018 general election from PP-90. He later joined the PTI on the insistence of businessman Jahangir Khan Tareen.

This year, Nawani was disqualified by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for voting against his party in the election for chief minister in Punjab.

Contesting candidates

The PML-N has allotted the ticket to Nawani for the upcoming by-poll.

The PTI has fielded Irfanullah Niazi, a cousin of former prime minister Imran Khan.

Who could win?

Nawani has a good shot at securing the by-election. Firstly, he is a returning candidate. Secondly, he is an "electable" with his own vote bank and now he also has the support of the PML-N, which has a sizable electorate in the constituency. Thirdly, Nawani has contested from this constituency seven times and won a majority of the time.

The Nawani family name also holds a lot of influence in the area.

One big disadvantage for PTI's Niazi is that until last month he was in the PML-N. In fact, he was fielded by the PML-N for this constituency in the 2018 election. 

Some PTI voters are unconvinced to vote for an ex-PML-N leader. Similarly, the PML-N electorate is not too keen to vote for Nawani, who until recently was with the PTI.

Will PTI voters vote for PML-N and PML-N voters for PTI? That will only be clear on election day.

Other candidates in the field are from the TLP and the PPP.

Election activity

An uninspiring election campaign on both sides.

Constituency problems

The biggest problem in the area is unemployment. There are only a few sugar mills in the constituency which provide some form of jobs.