On July 17, the control of the Punjab Assembly will be on the line, as the race for 20 seats in the province heats up.
In Pakistan’s most politically important province, the PML-N is hoping to maintain its narrow control. While the PTI is aiming to wrest the province away from the ruling party.
Who could tip the balance in their favor?
In the run-up to the by-polls, Geo.tv provides an in-depth look into the constituency:
A profile of the constituency
- Total voters: 319,555
- Male voters: 167,578
- Female voters: 151,977
PP-83 falls under NA-93, won by PTI’s Umer Aslam Awan.
2018 winner: Malik Ghulam Rasool Sangha won as an independent candidate and later joined the PTI on the insistence of businessman and former PTI leader, Jahangir Khan Tarin.
This year, Sangha was disqualified by the Election Commission of Pakistan for voting against his party in the election for chief minister in Punjab.
The PML-N has allotted the ticket to Sangha’s younger brother, Ameer Haider Sangha, who also has the support of the Pakistan People’s Party and other parties of Pakistan Democratic Movement.
The PTI has fielded Hasan Aslam Awan, the younger brother of PTI’s MNA Umer Aslam Awan.
Who could win?
At the moment, the election campaign of the independent candidate, Malik Asif Bha, is the strongest.
Bha was the PML-N’s candidate for PP-83 in 2018. He polled the second-highest votes in the constituency back then. Previously, he has also served as a provincial minister in Punjab.
When the PML-N refused to give Bha the ticket this time around, and instead chose Sangha, it created resentment within the party. Bha decided to contest independently in the upcoming by-polls and he is said to have the support of PML-N voters who are upset with their party for backing a former PTI MPA.
Even if Bha wins, he has vowed to return the seat to his leader Nawaz Sharif.
The right-wing TLP has been campaigning vigorously in the area. While it is unlikely to win, it can cut into the vote bank of the PML-N.
There has been very little election activity since the date for the by-polls was announced, mostly due to the heatwave and rising temperatures.
Education is a major concern for the residents of the constituency, as there are no proper schools for girls and boys in the entire district. Another problem is the lack of clean drinking water.