- PPP candidate for NA from constituency withdraws nomination in favour of PTI candidate
LAHORE: Though the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) rally from Lohari Gate on Nawaz Sharif’s return has recharged workers and fortified it as the stronghold of the PML-N, the elated women supporters youth activists of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are still a challenge for Hamza Shehbaz in NA-124 since they are in a majority and want a real change.
A total of seven candidates are contesting from the National Assembly seat NA-124 Lahore-II but the real contest is expected between Hamza Shehbaz, son of the PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, and PTI candidate and former Union Council Nazim of Allama Iqbal Town, Nauman Qaiser
Other candidates in the race are Babar Zaheer Ahmed Chaudhry of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Saleem Hammad as an independent, Sumaira Noreen of Tehreek Labaik Pakistan (TLP), Asim Arshad Khan of Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) and Muhammad Afzal of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA).
Hamza had defeated Muhammad Madni of PTI from this seat in the 2013 general elections and in 2008, he was elected unopposed.
Most of the elderly voters in the constituency said that they support the PML-N as per their previous tradition since they love Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif. According to them, Hamza Shehbaz had done a lot of development work in the area and they had no reason to differ from him.
On the other hand, the well-informed youth and women of the area had different views. They said that they wanted real change and talked about the problems like sewerage and parking.
Sohail Butt from Circular Road said that he supports the PTI and wants change. “The PML-N government did nothing for the area. There is a huge problem of sewage but the PML-N government did not pay heed to it,” he said.
Rabia Rehman, from the Railways Station area, said that she was a household woman and had always supported his parents’ choice of voting for the PML-N. But she said that now she wants to see a change and wants PTI Chairman Imran Khan on prime minister’s seat.
“We have always supported the PML-N but now there should be some change,” she said.
Sadia Arshad from Lohari Gate complained about the accumulation of rainwater in her house and blamed the PML-N government for this issue. “Why should I vote for the PML-N? They have failed to resolve the issue of rainwater in our homes,” she said.
The current NA-124 comprises 18 Union Councils, and the provincial assembly seats in this constituency are PP-146 and PP-147.
According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the total number of registered voters in the NA-124 is 522,226, out of which male voters are 294,647 and female voters are 227,579.
Under the fresh delimitations, NA-124 has been carved out NA-119, and the areas included in the constituency include part of walled city areas like Lohari Gate, Mochi Gate, Sheranwala Gate, Mohri Gate, Masti Gate, Yakki Gate and Delhi Gate. Railway Road, Qila Gujjar Singh, as well as complete northern Lahore including the areas of Misri Shah, Sultanpura, Tezab Ahata, Swami Nagar, Shuja Colony, Wassanpura, Shadbagh and some part of Badami Bagh, are also a part of it.
Main roads and markets of Lahore including Circular Road, Misri Shah, Loha Market, Landa Bazaar and Naulakha have also been included in this constituency while some villages like Bhamman, Jhuggian and Karol, which used to be a part of previous NA-123, have also been included in this constituency. The population in this constituency is about one million.
Mughals, Jutts, Mohajirs from Indian Punjab, Pakhtuns, Kashmiris, Arains and Rajputs are the major clans in this constituency, which has been a stronghold of the PML-N for decades.
Former Millat Party activist Ch Zaheer, who recently joined Pakistan People’s Party and was its candidate for the NA slot, joined the PTI and withdrew his nomination in favour of PTI’s candidate Nauman Qaiser on Tuesday.