GB Assembly elections: who will hold the royal office?
Gilgit (TP) October 28, 2020: A whopping number of candidates are vying for Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) elections scheduled for November 15. Around 320 contenders have started feverish campaigning to win over the voters, who, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and chilly weather, will be venturing out their homes to cast the ballot to send their respective candidates to the GB Assembly.
Interestingly, a total of 24 seats are up for the grabs in GBLA, such a large number of runners, some old guns and most of them new entrants, could upset the election results and nothing could be said with certainty as to which party will form the government.
Some political pundits, who spoke to The Punch, see a change of wind in favour of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) that may manage to win six to eight seats and form a coalition government with the support of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and independent candidates.
On the basis of the opinion of political analysts, local journalists and observers a brief analysis of each constituency and the candidates’ position is presented here for the readers.
In this very crucial constituency of Gilgit city, a total of 25 candidates are contesting elections but a tough contest is expected between a few heavyweights. In this constituency, former speaker and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Jaffarullah, PPP candidate Amjad Hussain Advocate, Maulana Sultan Raees (Independent), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Johar Ali, Pakistan Rah-e-Haq Party candidate Himayat Ullah, Syed Mustafa Shah of Islami Tehreek are in the run.
In this constituency, a neck-and-neck contest is expected between PPP’s Amjad Advocate and Himayat Ullah, who also has religious votes. According to some observers, Amjad Hussain has so far en edge over all other candidates but an alliance of Sunnis in the form of a joint candidate could upset the poll results
In this constituency, a total of 25 candidates are vying the contest but the real contest is expected between former chief minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz candidate Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman, PPP candidate Jamil Ahmed and PTI candidate Fateh Ullah Khan.
A neck-and-neck contest is likely in this constituency but some observers say the PPP candidate is making inroads with the voters. The former GB chief minister, who had carried out extensive development work in this constituency, is being accused of giving contracts of uplift works to his own blue-eyed contractors during his tenure and people are said to be wary of him after he backed off from promises he had made with the voters.
According to one source, Ismaili voters of Zulfiqarabad have pledged their allegiance to the PPP candidate and their vote could swing the result in this constituency.
In this specific constituency, elections have been delayed after the death of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf President Syed Jaffer Shah, who was also the candidate in this constituency.
In this constituency, former minister Dr Iqabl, who deserted the PML-N and joined the PTI is expecting a party ticket. However, the PTI has indicated to award the ticket to the son of Syed Jaffer Shah. Here again, a hot contest is expected between the PPP’s Aftab Haider and two PTI candidates, if the party decides not to award the ticket to Dr Iqbal. The PML-N has fielded a weak candidate in this constituency.
A total of 18 candidates are in the run in this constituency but the real contest is anticipated between PPP candidate Amjad Hussain Advocate and Muhammad Ayub Waziri of Islami Tehreek Pakistan. The PPP candidate is said to have an edge over his rivals in this constituency.
A total of 26 candidates are on the ground in this constituency to flex their muscles but the real fight is expected between Rizwan Ali of Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimin, Javed Ali Manva (Independent) and Mirza Hussain of PPP. Rizwan is tipped to win the polls in this constituency.
GBLA -6 Hunza
A total of 13 candidates are in the run in this constituency and the unforeseen result is expected in this crucial electorate. The PTI has split in this constituency after the party awarded ticket to Col (retd) Abaid Ullah Baig. PTI rebels Noor Muhammad and Kamil Jan are contesting elections as independent candidates. Noor Muhammad and Kamil Jan have failed to make an alliance against Abaid Ullah Baig, who they accuse as an outsider to the party and the constituency per se.
Senior advocate Ahsan Ali and Asif Sakhi are another two candidates who are contesting polls as independent candidates and, both being Left-leaning candidates, are expected to make a dent to each other instead of the rivals and the PTI candidate can make the most of this split. The PTI candidate is expected to win the race if such a large number of candidates did not withdraw in favour of a strong candidate.
A total of six candidates are in the field but a tough competition is expected between PPP candidate Mehdi Shah, PTI candidate Raja Muhammad Zakrai and PML-N candidate Muhammad Akbar Taban. Some observers say Mehdi Shah has an edge over his rivals as a group led by GB governor, who is the cousin of Raja Zakria, has surreptitiously backed off from supporting the PTI candidate.
In this constituency, a total of nine candidates are in the field but the real contest is expected between Imtiaz Haider Khan (Independent), Syed M Ali Shah of PPP and Muhammad Kazim of MWM. The PPP candidate is said to have a stronghold in this constituency.
A total of four candidates are in the run in this crucial constituency and a neck and neck contest is expected between PTI candidate and former GBLA speaker Fida Muhammad Nashad and Wazir Waqar Ali of PPP, who has succeeded in getting the support of independent candidate Wazir Muhammad Salem. Here votes of Sirmak area are considered swing votes and the area people have unanimously announced to support Wazir Waqar Ali. The PTI candidate is also said to have set his foot in the swing area to woo back the disgruntled voters, who have opposed him after he ditched the PML-N.
In this constituency, 11 candidates are flexing their muscles but the main competition is expected between Raja Nasir Ali (Independent), Muhammad Sikandar Ali of Islami Tehreek Pakistan and Muhammad Khan Wazir of PPP. Observers say that a hot contest is expected between the three candidates and Sikandar is said to have an upper hand here. PPP rebel Najaf Ali has reportedly announced to support Sikardar after he was denied the ticket by the party.
A total of 10 candidates are in the run in this constituency and the contest is expected between PTI’s Syed Amjad Ali, PML-N’s Shabbir Hussain, Syed Mohsin Rizvi (Independent) and Iqbal Hussain. In this constituency, the PTI candidate is said to have a strong vote bank.
In this constituency, a total of four candidates are in the field and the main contest is expected between PPP’s Imran Nadeem and Muhammad AzamKhan of the PTI. Imran Nadeen, according to political observers, is expected to win this time around with a big margin in this constituency.
In this constituency, a total of 12 candidates are trying their luck and the main contest is expected between Dr Ghulam Abbas (Independent), PTI’s Khalid Khurshid, PPP’s Abdul Hameed and PML-N’s Rana Farman Ali. In this constituency, the Gudai area has forty per cent of the total vote bank and Gudai Ittihad led by former Supreme Appellate Court judge Sahib Khan has announced to support Dr Ghulam Abbas. Another group called “real Gudai Ittihad” led by advocate Ismail has announced to support the PPP candidate, who is said to be an old guard and a mature politician. A neck and neck contest is expected between the PPP and the PTI candidate in this constituency.
In this constituency, 22 candidates are flexing their muscles. The main contest is expected between PTI’s Shamsul Haq Lone, PML-N’s Rana Muhamad Farooq and PPP’s Muzaffar Ali Relay. The influential Gorikot Ulema Council has announced to support the PTI candidate and according to political observers, Shamul Haq Lone is expected to win elections in this constituency.
In this constituency, a total of 17 candidates are contesting elections and the main showdown is predicted between PPP’s Bashir Ahmed, Shah Baig (Independent) and JUI’F’s Wali-ur-Rehman. In this constituency, Thak and Niat areas have a large number of voters and the Syed Beradari’s votes are also considered crucial for any candidate to win the seat.
A total of seven candidates are contesting elections in this constituency and the main battle is expected between Eng Muhammad Anwar of PML-N, PPP’s Dilbar Khan and Attaulla (Independent) and Abdul Aziz of PML-Q. Here the PML-Q candidate, according to locals, is the strongest candidate and the Soniwal tribe has also announced to support him.
A total of 11 candidates are contesting elections in this constituency and the main contest is expected between Rehmat Khaliq of JUI-F, Haider Khan of PTI and Muhammad Zaman (Independent). The JUI-F candidate is said to have a slight edge over his rivals in this constituency. However, according to political observers, the unexpected result could not be ruled out in this constituency.
A total of nine candidates including PPP’s female candidate Sadia Danish are contesting in this constituency. The main tussle is expected between Malik Kifayat-ur-Rehman (Independent), PTI’s Gulbar Khan, JUI-F’s Abdur Rasheed and PPP’s Sadia Danish. In this constituency, Malik Kifayat-ur-Rehman is said to have a strong vote bank and he is also backed by the PML-N. Political observers say that if PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari visits the constituency along with party candidate Sadia Danish, he may mould the public opinion as a majority of the youth is said to be favouring the PPP nominee.
Talking to The Punch, Sadia Danish said that they were planning to visit the constituency in coming days to formally launch the campaign. She said that the PPP if voted to power, is planning to convert the area into a tourist resort. Sadia Danish also said that women are least heard in her constituency and she would raise her voice for the women of Tangir, if voted to power, and work for the provision of missing health and education facilities in the most neglected area.
A total of 13 candidates are flexing their muscles in this constituency and the main contest is expected between PPP’s Syed Jalal Ali Shah, Nawaz Khan Naji (Independent), PTI’s Zafar Muhammad Shadumkhel and Shakil Ahmed (Independent). In this constituency, a neck and neck contest is expected between the four candidates. However, political observers say that the PPP candidate, who is also the son of late Pir Karam Ali Shah, is expected to get the sympathy votes and he is poised to give a tough time to Nawaz Khan Naji, the two-time winner. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto’s expected visit to the constituency could also mould the public opinion in favour of the PPP candidate. Nawaz Khan Naji is still considered the strongest candidate in this constituency.
In this constituency, a total of 12 candidates are in the run and the main contest is expected between PPP’s Ali Madad Sher, PML-Q’s Khan Akbar Khan, Fida Khan (Independent) and PML-N’s Muhammad Nazar Khan. In this constituency, the result is expected to be highly unpredictable as voters have split among so many candidates.
In this constituency, a total of 20 candidates are in the run and the main contest is expected between PML-N’s Ghulam Muhammad, PPP’s Muhammad Ayub, PTI’s Raja Jahanzeb, Rehmat Rahim (Independent), Hafeez-ur-Rehman (Independent) and Abdul Saboor Khan (Independent). In this unpredictable constituency, the eleventh-hour mood of voters’ often swings the election results. In this constituency, the main contest is expected between PML-N’s Ghulam Muhammad and PPP’s Muhammad Ayub. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s expected visit could tilt the mood of the voters in favour of the party candidate. Political observers say that if Hafeez-ur-Rehman withdraws in favour of PPP candidate Muhammad Ayub, he could make the most of the Begal family votes, as both the candidates are from the same family and their candidature has split the family vote.
A total of 10 candidates are trying their luck in this constituency and the main contest is expected between PTI’s Muhammad Ibrahim Sanai, Raza-ul-Haq Madani, Mushtaq Hussain (Independent) and PPP’s Muhammad Jaffer. In this constituency, the PPP candidate is tipped to win the polls as the PTI vote has split after Mushtaq Hussain announced to contest polls as an independent candidate after the party denied him the ticket and awarded it to the PML-N’s renegade Ibrahim Sanai.
In this constituency, 15 candidates are on the ground and the main contest is expected between Amina Bibi of PTI, Ghulam Hussain of PML-N, Abdul Hameed (Independent) and Ghulam Ali Haideri of PPP. An unanticipated, according to observers, turnout is expected in this constituency and all the four bigwigs have almost an equal number of the voters’ support.
A total of five candidates are contesting elections in this constituency and the main contest is expected between PPP’s Muhammad Ismail, PML-Q’s Muhammad Ibrahim Taban and PTI’s Syed Shamsuddin. In this constituency, Muhammad Ismail may win the election this time around.
According to senior journalists Israr Ahmed, Abdul Rehman Bukhari, Nisar Ali and Muzaffar Wazir, the PPP is expected to win six to eight seats, the PTI is anticipated to win three to four seats and the PML-N two to three seats while the rest will be won by independents and religious party candidates. If the PPP manages to win eight seats, it will form a coalition government with the support of the PML-N and independents.
Political observers also said that Bilawal Bhutto’s presence and campaigning could mould the public opinion in getting the party win the polls. Some observers also say that the Establishment has engaged him in GB elections to neutralize the Pakistan Democratic Movement agitation against the PTI government in the centre.
The PTI, meanwhile, has failed to award tickets to old members after a large number of senior PML-N members deserted the party and joined it. According to observers, the PTI central leadership ignored the old party members in awarding the tickets and as a result, several senior party members opted to contest elections as independent candidates. The PTI vote has internally split and the party is in a weak position to form the government.