PP-206 Khanewal by elections- three way close contest expected between PML-N, PPP and PTI

PML-N has won this constituency 06 times since 1988 while PPP won it once in 2008 

All is set for the PP-206 Khanewal By elections on Thursday December 16. The election campaign will end tonight. A close contest is expected between PML-N candidate Rana Saleem, Naureen Nishat Daha of PTI and PPP’s Mir Syed Wasiq Haider. It seems that couple of thousand votes will decide the winners. PML-N and PTI are going neck to neck while PPP is also not far behind.

This constituency was PP-177 before 2002. It became PP-214 after the delimitation in 2002. Now this constituency is PP-206 since 2018.

This seat fell vacant after the death of MPA Nishat Daha. He elected MPA on PML-N ticket in 2018 general elections but later rebelled against the party and switch to PTI. Nishat Daha won 2008, 2013 and 2018 elections. In 2008, he contested as PPP candidate and won this seat.   Now PTI has issued its ticket to his widow Naureen Nishat Daha.

PML-N has given its ticket to Rana Saleem who contested 2018 general elections on PTI ticket and lost against Nishat Daha of PML-N with the margin of nearly 3,400 votes. Rana Saleem contested the 2008 elections on PML-Q ticket but lost against Nishat Daha who contested on PPP ticket. So both candidates changed their political loyalties.

In 2018 general elections, Nishat Daha secured this seat by getting 51,353 votes followed by Rana Mohammad Saleem, who contested the polls from PTI’s platform, with 47,807 votes. PPP’s Mir Syed Wasiq Haider Tirmizi stood third with 6,617 votes and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP)’s Mohammad Amir Sohail came fourth with 5,764 votes.

In this by-election, PTI, PML-N and TLP have changed their candidates while PPP retained its old candidate. 

PML-N seems in better position in this constituency. Rana Saleem has an edge over other candidates due to his personal vote bank and strong support base of PML-N in the city.  Lot depends on the turnout. High turnout will help PML-N while low turnout will help PPP as it happened in NA-133 Lahore by polls.

Naureen Daha is banking on her husband’s personal vote bank and PTI voters. PTI is trying to lure the voters with the promises of development work. Reportedly, she is also telling the people of the constituency to vote for her if they want the development of the area as development funds will only be released to the candidates belonging to treasury benches.

 The PTI is also selling the Health Card Scheme and Ehsas programme to woo the voters. PTI is trying everything to take advantage as being the ruling party in Punjab and Islamabad.

The Hiraj brothers and some other local groups are also supporting her. Her family is running the campaign. She might also get some sympathy vote due to the death of her husband. This constituency is important for PTI to show that it is still popular and can win elections.

The PTI is facing lot of resentment among sections of population because of rising inflation, increased poverty and unemployment.  These issues are big disadvantage for the PTI campaigners as wherever they go people ask about the ever-increasing prices of essentials and unemployment.

This Khanewal constituency is consists of urban and semi urban areas and traditionally support right wing candidates. This constituency is considered a stronghold of PML-N.  PML-N/IJI won this constituency in 1988 and 1990. PML-N won it in 1993, 1997, 2013 and 2018.

PML-N won 29 out of 44 municipal wards in the last local government elections held in 2015. PML-N and PPP are the only parties who won this constituency since 1970. An independent won in 2002.

Since 1988, PML-N has won this constituency 06 times while PPP won it once in 2008.   

PPP won this constituency in 1970 and 1977 and 2008.  Despite losing consecutive elections in this constituency, PPP was used to have a considerable vote bank around 23,000 till 1993. But this vote bank dropped since then.

PPP is hopeful to revive its vote bank this time. In 2018 general election, PPP candidate Mir Wasiq got more than 6,600 votes. PPP is ready to give tough time to both PML-N and PTI candidates.     

TLP is also in the run and might be able to mobilise religious voters. TLP will not only get hardline Bralevi votes but also from other sects.  TLP is posing challenge to PML-N. TLP candidate Sheikh Akmal got 9,988 votes in 2002 elections as MMA candidate. He can cause damage to PML-N.

The TLP could have been a challenge for the PML-N, but the Sialkot lynching incident has turned the public opinion against the party and many voters are seeing it as a “violent organisation”. However, despite this negative image, its nominee is likely to bag around 10,000 votes.

The possible revival of PPP could cause damage to PTI vote bank. Many PTI voters were used to be in PPP but switched loyalties since 2013. PPP’s surge will create problems for PTI.

Both PML-N and PTI are also facing internal differences over the issue of tickets. Both parties are facing internal defections. The internal differences might affect the ability of parties to mobilise the voters on polling day.

The 230,698 voters in this constituency will decide the fate of all the candidates on Thursday December 16. There are 125,190 male voters whereas 105,508 female voters. According to ECP, 183 polling stations will be established for PP-206 by-polls out of which there will be 62 polling stations for male voters and 60 polling stations for female voters while 61 polling stations will be combined. 

                                                                 Khalid Bhatti  

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