NA-130 LAHORE (VIII) Lahore: The constituency is set to witness another close contest between between old rivals from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, Khwaja Hasaan and Shafqat Mehmood, respectively.Mehmood defeated Hasaan in a close contest with a margin of just 7,000 in the last election in 2013. Mehmood was PTI’s only MNA elected from the city. The party secured both provincial assembly seats in the constituency (then delimited as NA 126) as well. Although the main contest here will be between Khawaja Hassan and Shafqat Mehmood, there are other notable candidates in the race as well: the Pakistan Peoples Party has awarded its ticket to Mumtaz Khalid, while the Jamaat-e-Islami has fielded its general secretary Liaqat Baloch from the platform of the Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal.Hafeezur Rehman is the candidate of Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), while Haroon Khawaja, Yameen Awan and Abu Bakar Wattoo are contesting from the platforms of Pakistan Freedom Movement, Pak Sarzameen Party and Pakistan Qaumi Yakjehti Party respectively. The constituency consists of some of the central areas of the city in termms of social and cultural activities. These are Gulberg, Muslim Town, Model Town, Model Town Extension, New Garden Town, Shadman, Kalma Chowk, Barkat Market, Firdos Market, Wahdat Colony and some parts of Allama Iqbal Town, Faisal Town and Ichra. NA-130 has 483,914 registered voters. As many as 350 polling stations will be established in NA-130 for 256,197 male and 227,717 female voters on July 25.There are two complete and two partial seats of provincial assembly falling in NA-130, as PP-159 has 168,047 votes, while 234,426 votes are registered in PP-160. Moreover, 58,460 votes of NA-130 fall in PP-158, while 22,981 voters are registered in PP-166. A close contest is expected between former leader of the opposition in Punjab Assembly, Mian Mehmood-ur-Rasheed of PTI, and Syed Tauseef Shah of PML-N in PP-160. Rasheed defeated Shah in 2013 with a close margin of 4,000 votes when it used to be PP-151. The other candidates in the race of PP-160 this time are Afzal Naqvi of PSP, Shakeel Pasha of PPP, Muhammad Shafique of Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek and Raza Masood of TLP. Rana Ahsan Sharafat, the candidate of PML-N from PP-158, is new to the area’s politics. He will face PTI’s central leader Abdul Aleem Khan. In PP-166, Abdul Karim Rahi of PTI will contest against former PML-N MPA Ramzan Siddique Bhatti. PTI has awarded ticket to its former MPA, Dr Murad Ras, from the constituency in PP-159 (old PP-152), while PML-N has changed its candidate this time and has opted for party’s longtime loyalist Hafiz Mian Nauman. In 2013, Murad Ras clinched this seat with a narrow margin of just 2,000 votes by defeating PML-N’s Khawaja Salman Rafique, who has now changed his constituency and is contesting in one of the seats falling under NA-129 from where Sardar Ayaz Sadiq is the candidate. Haroon Khawaja of PFM, Mian Aslam of PPP, Amir Hamza AAT, Fasih ud Din Saif of MMA and Imran Akbar from TLP are other candidates taking part in PP-159 election.A detailed survey of the constituency conducted by Daily Times reveals that PTI has an edge over PML-N in developed settlements, while the PML-N is leading in katchi abadis. “It is right to say that PTI will draw lead from some posh areas of the constituency but it will be really tough for us in katchi abadis,” said Lala Javaid, a Union Council councilor of PTI from UC 203 (FC College), while sitting in a street of a katchi abadi near FC college. He said his party would have to work hard in this area in the remaining days keeping in view the strong vote bank of PML-N in such areas.Aneela Ahmed, a resident of the Gulberg main market area, told this scribe that the game was over for the PML-N because of what she believed was a tireless struggle of Imran Khan to get rid of corrupt elements from the political scene. “Last time, I voted for PTI and this time around I would also cast my vote for bat. This area is a stronghold of Imran Khan,” she said.While talking to Daily Times, Binyamin Masih of Shadman said that Khawaja Ahmad Hassan was a very humble person and he had done a lot of development work for the uplift of the city. “I will vote for him. He lives in our neighborhood and we can knock at his door whenever it is required, but the candidate of PTI spends most of his days in Islamabad,” he said, adding that PML-N would easily win UC 198 (Shadman).Muhammad Rizwan from Model Town said that the PML-N has spent billions on just a few mega projects but it hasn’t bothered resolving the perennial drainage system of the city as all the major roads get inundated whenever it rains in Lahore. “We have tested all the old political parties and the time has come now to give a chance to a third force that has just appeared in the shape of PTI,” he said, vowing to cast his vote for the PTI. Haji Muhammad Afzal, a businessman from Ichhra Bazaar told this scribe that PML-N would win from this part of the constituency keeping in view the development works in the area, especially the Metro Bus Service. He said that he would cast his vote for PML-N. “Hafiz Asad Ubaid of Jamia Ashrafia, a leading religious seminary of the city, retains influence on religious segments in the area of Ichra and Shah Jamal. He is also diligently campaigning for the PML-N.Although Khawaja Hassan couldn’t win from here in 2013 but he secured millions of rupees in development funding in his capacity as the chairman of the Steering Committee of the Orange Line Metro Train and several other development projects for the constituency. This has endeared him to voters in many areas of the constituency.On the other hand, the winners of PTI from this constituency kept complaining about not getting funds throughout their five year term due to what they alleged was a biased approach of the PML-N. PTI’s Dr Murad Ras raised the issue on the floor of the assembly several times during his last stint as the MPA. “The people of my constituency were drinking unhygienic water due to the apathy of the government and I installed around 50 water filtration plants for my people from my own pocket during my 5-year tenure,” he said.NA-130 (old NA-126) was clinched by Liaqat Baloch in 2002 when he was the candidate of MMA and was also supported by the PML-N under the seat adjustment programme. Umar Sohail Zia Butt, a close relative of the Sharifs became MNA from here in 2008, when it used to be NA-126.Published in Daily Times, July 23rd 2018.