Elections are most hyped event in the political history of Pakistan. During elections, the nation wholeheartedly is involved in voting for their favourite political party. These days we are hearing a lot about the by-election in NA-120, and are aware that it is the most popular national assembly constituency.
Most importantly, in this electrifying political environment, Gallup has unleashed latest survey where 38 percent people opted to vote PML-N, 22 percent to PTI, followed by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) by 16 percent, and 11 percent to the other remaining parties. Eight per cent of people showed their lack of interest in casting their votes, 3 percent showed confidence in voting independent candidates, 1 percent did not reply to the question.
Talking about the previous result of the elections 2002, PML-N’s Pervez Malik won from NA-120, whereas in 2008, Bilal Yaseen became MNA. In 2013, Nawaz Sharif won by securing 91,744 votes and became the Prime Minister of the country. His rival candidate, Dr Yasmin Rashid of the PTI, secured 52,321 votes, which were highest ever in the constituency against PML-N. However, around two dozen candidates of different political parties including Pakistan People’s Party, JUI-F and Jamat-e-Islami and some independent candidates had lost their security deposits against the former prime minister.
Just to make geographical location clear for my readers, NA 120 Lahore-III seat consists areas of old city, Islampura, Bilal Gunj, New Anarkali, Urdu Bazaar, Hall Road, Cooper Road, Mayo Hospital, Sanda, Mozang, Kareem Park, Lower Mall, Lake Road, Shahrah-e-Fatima Jinnah, Moj Darya Road, Lytton Road, Chauburji, Rajgarh, Riwaz Garden, Sanat Nagar, Ram Nagar, Dave Samaaj Road, Sham Nagar, Sanda, Civil Secretariat, Prem Nagar, Bund Road, Ravi Colony, Kasurpura, Khokhar Town and Mominpura. PP-139 Lahore-III and PP-140 Lahore-IV fall under the constituency from where PML-N candidates Bilal Yasin and Majid Zahoor had secured the victory in 2013. Total population of NA-120 is approximately 456,960 with 125,877 males and 106,923 females.
Besides Kalsoom Nawaz, notable among those in the run for NA-120 are Dr Yasmeen Rashid of PTI, Hafiz Mian Zubair Kardar of PPP, advocate Ishtiaq Chaudhary of PAT and a former police constable Din Muhammad is also in the fray as an independent candidate. As per the political pundits, this by-election will decide the popularity of PTI and PML-N in Punjab and more importantly in Lahore region. It will not be an easy candy for both the parties because this election in NA-120 will indicate which way the wind is blowing for the Sharifs and Captain turned politician Imran Khan.
The most vivid example of a wife inheriting her husband’s legacy, in a premise quite similar to Sharif’s, comes to mind from neighbouring Indian state, Bihar. The year was 1997 and like Sharif, Lalu Prasad Yadav too was facing graft charges and was forced to step down as the state’s chief minister. Just when most of his political rivals were preparing for celebrations, for bringing down the Lalu Raj, the RJD chief stunned the Opposition by forcing the mantle on his wife Rabri Devi. The move, then looked upon as an unprecedented political stunt, was met with severe criticism amid allegations that Rabri was practically unlettered and had little interest in public service or politics.
But in case of Kalsoom Nawaz, we can see that her ideology is quite clear. She had been standing with PML-N and Nawaz Sharif in every odd situation, as she also remained the party president between 1999 and 2002.
Now Sharifs will once again be facing Imran Khan’s candidate in the NA-120 by-election. Political experts so far believe that PML-N would be able to defeat Dr Rashid, considering that NA-120 remains a Sharif/PML-N stronghold and also due to the fact that a majority of voters here have been incensed at the manner PTI pushed for Nawaz’s ouster. On the other hand, PTI is confident that Dr Rashid, a popular figure in Lahore, would be able to improve upon her 2013 performance by also managing to bag whatever support left her for parties such as the PPP, the Jamat-e-Islami and PML-Q.
Kalsoom Nawaz will be giving tough competition to PTI and other candidates. However, I strongly believe that the result of this by-election will determine the political future of the Sharif family after the PM’s ouster and the pressure that the family is facing from the courts.