Tuesday, September 06, 2022

By-poll in PP-139 Sheikhupura: A rookie vs a seasoned politician

PTI chairman Imran Khan is expected to hold a political rally in the constituency on September 9

PP-139 Sheikhupura map — Geo.tv
PP-139 Sheikhupura map — Geo.tv 

PP-139 Sheikhupura became vacant after its lawmaker, Mian Jalil Ahmed Sharaqpuri, resigned in July, just a few days before the election for chief minister in the province.

Sharaqpuri was a member of the provincial assembly from the PML-N. But since 2020 he had developed differences with his political party and had been openly critical of it.

The split emerged after Sharaqpuri, and a few other PML-N’s legislatures, met with then chief minister Punjab, Usman Buzdar. After the meeting, the PML-N leadership issued a show-cause notice to the lawmaker for violating party policies. He did not respond.

On July 16, Sharaqpuri sent in his resignation.

Profile of the constituency

Population: 388,626

Total voters: 227,541

Male voters: 126,693

Female voters: 100,848

2018: In the 2018 general election, PML-N's Mian Jalil Ahmed Sharaqpuri won the constituency with 31,010 votes. Jahanzeb Rao of the PTI received 27,153 votes.

Contesting candidates

On September 11, the contest would be between PTI’s Muhammad Abu Baker Sharaqpuri and PML-N’s Iftikhar Ahmad Bhangoo.

A third contender in the race is the previously banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan’s Muhammad Rauf.

Who could win?

Sharaqpuri has decided to not contest the by-election in PP-139, and has instead pushed forward his cousin, Abu Baker, as the PTI candidate. The 53-year-old Baker is a novice in politics and will be contesting an election for the first time.

On the other side of the ring is PML-N’s Iftikhar Ahmed Bhangoo, who has been in the electoral race four times, since 1985. However, he has not contested an election in over 20 years. It is said that Bhangoo was not awarded a ticket by the PML-N.

In 2013, his son, Bilal Iftikhar Bhangoo, was in the running from this provincial constituency on the PTI ticket. But he lost.

Journalists, covering PP-139, expect a tough contest between PTI and PML-N on September 11. They say one reason Sharaqpuri was not comfortable pitching himself was that he was not sure he would win, after the recent rhetoric against electables and those who switch political parties.

There is also fear of violence on the day of the polling as 74 polling stations have been declared sensitive so far.

There are 32,666 new voters in the constituency since the 2018 general election.

Election activity:

PTI chairman Imran Khan is expected to hold a political rally in the constituency on September 9.

Constituency problems:

Law and order is a serious concern, with rising crime rates. There is no university in the area and employment opportunities are also low. Farmers further suffer due to the lack of any proper vegetable or grain-selling market in the consistency.