Punjab by polls- PML-N rebels causing serious trouble for the party candidates in 4 constituencies

 The former ticket holders of PML-N are contesting elections as independent candidates and posing serious challenge to PML-N candidates in by polls

In a do or die by polls for PML-N in 20 Punjab Assembly constituencies on July 17, PML-N is facing serious challenge from its own rebels in four constituencies. The PML-N ticket holder in 2018 general elections have rebelled in three constituencies and contesting the by polls as independents.

Malik Asif Bha in PP-83 Khushab, Syed Rafiaddin Bukhari in PP-228 Lodhran and Syed Haroon Bukhari in PP-272 Muzaffargarh contesting the general elections 2018 on PML-N ticket but lost the elections.
 Raja Muhammad Ali the son of veteran PML-N leader Raja Zafar ul Haq is not contesting the election as an independent but opposing the PML-N candidate Raja Saghir Ahmad in PP-7 Kahuta- Rawalpindi.  Malik Asif Bha and Syed Haroon Bukhari served in the cabinet of  CM Shahbaz Sharif as provincial ministers. The local PML-N groups are also supporting the different candidates in some constituencies. 

ML-N has awarded tickets to Ameer Haider Sangah in PP-83 instead of Malik Asif Bha, Nazir Ahmad Baloch in PP-228 and Syeda Zahra Basit, the wife of MNA Syed Basit Bukhari.  
The PML-N has awarded tickets for  by polls to the PTI MPAs who were de seated by Election Commission for casting their votes for Hamza Shahbaz Sharif in CM Punjab elections. PML-N needs at least 09 seats out of 20 on the grab to retain the Punjab government.
All efforts have failed to withdraw the PML-N rebels from the contest. The failure of the PML-N to overcome the divisions within the party could cost them at least two seats.  

In PP-83, Khushab where former provincial minister and very popular local figure Malik Asif Bha Awan has fielded himself against PMLN's Ameer Haider Sangah. PTI has awarded ticket to Malik Hassan Aslam, the brother of sitting MNA of PTI Malik Umar Aslam who belong to the family of a noted political figure of past Malik Naeem Awan.

Malik Asif Bha served as Provincial Minister for Forest in the cabinet of Shahbaz Sharif between 2013 and 2018. He got elected first as independent MPA in 2002 while defeating Tiwanas, a famous group of Khushab and remained associated with PMLQ. Later, in 2008, he won again as independent candidate and joined PMLN and won the 2013 for the third consecutive time, that time on PMLN ticket.

He was the PMLN backed candidate in 2018 and contested against PTI ticket holder Ghulam Rasool Sangha but lost. In 2022, Ghulam Rasool Sangha, the sitting PTI MPA voted Hamza Shahbaz in the CM's election and faced disqualification after which the seat fell vacant.

In the 2022 by-polls, PMLN awarded ticket to his brother Ameer Haider Sangha who is contesting against Malik Hassan Aslam of PTI and Malik Asif Bha, the three times winner of this seat.

In PP-272 Muzaffargarh, Syed Haroon Bukhari is contesting against his sister-in-law. PML-N candidate Syeda Zahra Basit is the wife of Haroon’s brother, Syed Basit Bukhari MNA. Haroon Sultan Bukhari lost to his own mother Syeda Zahra Batool Bokhari in 2018 elections while split in the family brought mother and son against each other. Both the brothers Basit and Haroon was in the PML-N before the 2018 general elections but parted way as Basit joined PTI.  

His mother Syed Zahra Batool who was PTI MPA voted for Hamza Shahbaz and after her disqualification, the seat fell vacant where Basit has fielded his wife on PML-N ticket and his brother Haroon is contesting as independent candidate. Sardar Moazzam Khan Jatoi is the PTI candidate and the split of vote between two Bukharis can benefit PTI in this constituency.

In PP-228, Nazir Ahmed Baloch, a PTI dissident is now the PML-N candidate. He is from a known local family and faces first-timer and PTI man, Izzat Javed Khan, who is seen as a weak candidate. However, Syed Rafiaddin Bukhari, who was the runner-up in 2018 on the PML-N ticket and lost by just 3,000 votes, is now contesting as an independent candidate.

The split in the PML-N can benefit the PTI as former PML-N MNA Siddique Baluch is opposing the PML-N candidate Nazir Baloch. Without a split and divisions in the PML-N, it could have been an easy election to win for the PML-N candidates. 

                                                     Khalid Bhatti Election Cell insight247.news

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