Rajgarh’s UC-73 is a mixed bag. It promises competition between the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, which secured votes for the MNA and the MPA in the general elections, and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, even though the last nazim was affiliated with the Jamaat-i-Islami.
The larger area has traditionally supported the PML-N and the UC falls under NA-121 and PP-149 where MNA Mehar Ishtiaq Ahmed and Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan were elected in 2013.
UC 73 comprises Shamnagar, Sanda, Chaman Bagh, Haji Park and Taj Park, Rajgarh.
The previous nazim from a part of the area was Khaliq Butt, a JI affiliate, who had contested the election as an independent. Butt is contesting the chairman’s seat in UC-64 as an independent.
Ikhlaq Ahmed Butt, a resident of Omar Chowk in Rajgarh area, says the JI no longer has a vote base in the area. “It’s like the party upped and vanished. They now have no presence, no work and naturally no support.”
He says the only reason Khaliq Butt had managed to win was because of his personal efforts in addressing local issues, not anything the party did. For PML-N’s candidate, Sohail Amir, the area has always given a mandate to those who deliver. “We have seen much development in the last two years especially regarding provision of water.”
Amir is also the adviser to the chief minister on youth and sports and leads the CM’s youth mobilisation committee. He says this is not an official appointment and does not conflict with his candidacy.
This is the first time Amir, a resident of Sanda Klan, will contest an election. He commends the work done by the former nazim of the area but says a lot more needs to be done. “We need more tube wells and improvement in the supply of gas and water.”
PTI’s candidate Sheikh Shafique contested the by-election for a nazim’s seat in UC-86. Shafique, runs a cloth shop at Azam Market.
Shafique says his campaign focuses on highlighting issues including gas and water supply. Dismissing the idea that the area is a PML-N stronghold, he says: “We all know how the PML-N gets its votes…The PTI is the only party that has educated people about their rights.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2015.