LAHORE: The ruling PML-N has left far behind its political rivals by securing 1,042 of total 2,507 seats in the third phase of local government elections in Punjab in line with the trends set during the previous two phases in the province.
Its main rival Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is lagging far behind with a tally of 250 seats. Independent candidates have repeated their performance in the first and second phases by bagging 1,033 seats to lay claim to the second position.
Many upsets were seen in Saturday’s polls as candidates supported by former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi and the son-in-law of Javed Hashmi in Multan and a brother and an uncle of a local PML-N legislator in Narowal lost their contests.
Also read: PML-N leads in Punjab LB polls
Jhang witnessed another trend as independents trounced all political parties, except the PML-N, both in the district council and municipal committees. The Rah-i-Haq Party, reportedly a group backed by the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan group, secured third position by emerging victorious in 14 of the 50 wards of the Jhang municipal committee.
Independents were the leading force in Narowal, Daska and Sambrial municipalities of Sialkot district and Liaquatpur and Khanpur municipal committees of Rahimyar Khan.
It was perhaps for the first time in the electoral history of Dera Ghazi Khan district that tribal chieftains faced rebellion in their strongholds. Awais Leghari, the son of former president Farooq Leghari, saw defeat of his nominees in Choti Zereen and Fort Munro and the Khosas in Tumman Khosa.
The PML-N, which had been facing a tough time after the departure of Sardar Zulfikar Khosa from its ranks, gained victory in Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur districts. Of Rajanpur district’s 69 union councils, it emerged winner in 46 constituencies mainly due to hard work done by Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Sardar Sher Ali Gorchani, whose father won from a union council.
The PPP, which had showed a dismal performance in the earlier stages, somewhat improved its position by taking 100 seats to prove that it has some life in the southern parts of the province.
Thanks to personal influence of former governor of Punjab Makhdoom Ahmed Mahmood, Rahimyar Khan may become the only district council where the PPP will rule the roost. The Makhdoom-led group has won 64 of the 139 seats of union council chairman.
Intra-party conflicts cost the PML-N dearly in Rahimyar Khan municipality elections as all ticket-holders from the quota of Jaffar Iqbal Gujjar, a member of the National Assembly, lost to independents being supported by Mian Imtiaz, another party MNA, or PTI nominees. The Gujjar group could not secure even a single seat.
The third and final phase of LB polls saw sporadic incidents of violence and brawls and snatching of ballot boxes — the last being the reason for withholding of results in four UCs of Dera Ghazi Khan — Barthi, Fazala, Bodo and Kotani.
According to unofficial results received so far about 1,124 of the 1,151 district council seats, the PML-N has secured 471 seats, independents 448, the PTI 114 and the PPP 84.
Of the 184 wards of municipal corporations, the PML-N has emerged victorious in 107, independents 42, the PTI 24, and PPP and Awami Muslim League one each.
In 1,167 of the 1,172 wards of municipal committees, the independents have won in 543, PML-N 464, the PTI 112, PPP 14, Rah-i-Haq 12, the PML-Q 6, Jamaat-i-Islami 3 and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl 2.
Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2015