The electioneering process has gained momentum in Mansehra, as the candidates and their supporters are conducting door-to-door campaigns to gather voters’ support for the eminent elections.
To announce party manifestoes, the candidates of mainstream political parties are holding corner meetings and addressing public rallies. A tough electoral battle is expected in two National Assembly (NA) constituencies among Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI-F).
On NA-20 Manshera-I, former nazim and MNA Sardar Muhammad Yusaf of PML-N, Central Vice President of PTI and former federal minister Muhammad Azam Khan Swati and former federal minister, Syed Qasim Shah have jumped into electoral battle. For this first time, Muhammad Azam Khan Swati is contesting election from this constituency.
Sardar Muhammad Yousaf had re-joined PML-N after his son and former Federal Minister Sardar Shahjehan Yousaf quit PML-Q, helping his father secure PML-N ticket. However, political observers said this decision may create problems for PML-N due to resentment among the workers for ignoring several party loyalists and activists.
The past record of the constituency shows that Sardar Muhammad had sufficient vote bank in the constituency that was earlier called NA-14 by winning in 1990, 1993 and 1997.
Due to delimitation, this constituency was called NA-20 Manshera-I from where his son was elected in 2002 and 2008 general elections. In 2008 general elections, Sardar Shahjehan had won on PML-Q ticket with a narrow margin by securing 73,644 votes against PML-N ticket holder Lt Gen (retd) Salahuddin Tirmizi with 72,526 votes.
Syed Qasim Shah is also a potential candidate who recently joined JUI-F after quitting PML-Q. Earlier, Shah was the PML-Q Khyber-Paktunkhwa president. He had won this constituency in 1988 as independent candidate by securing 34,363 votes against independent candidate Syed Muzzamil Shah.
Similarly, former federal minister Azam Khan Swati is contesting election from the first time from here. He has the support of Swati tribe besides youth, which is a threat to his political rivals.
Meanwhile, 10 other candidates including Muhammad Younas Khattak of JUI-F are also contesting elections from NA-20. On NA-21 Manshera-II, the battle would be between Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar who is the son-in-law of PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif and former MNA and JUI-F ticket holder Laiq Muhammad Khan. Moreover, Salahuddin Saeed of PTI and former MNA Abdul Malaik (JI) are also contesting elections from this constituency.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2013.