A total of 18 candidates have registered themselves to contest the by-elections for the provincial constituency PP-97.
The candidates have submitted their nomination papers to the Returning Officer, and include former provincial minister Chaudhry Ajmal Cheema. A tough contest is expected in the constituency between the PTI and PML-N candidate.
The candidates who submitted their nomination papers to Returning Officer Basil Akram include former Tehsil Nazim Chak Jhumra Chaudhry Fawad Cheema, Chaudhry Ali Afzal Sahi, Chaudhry Junaid Afzal Sahi, Chaudhry Sher Afghan Cheema, Luqman Chaudhry, Former MPA Azad Ali Tabassum, Saleem Jahangir Chatha, Rizwan Liaquat, Nadeem Shafi, Ali Ahmed Goraya, Mohammad Asif Aziz, Wasim Akram, Mohammad Amir Nawaz, Rana Fayyaz Ahmed, Sanaan Jahangir and Shoaib Aslam.
Their nomination papers will be scrutinized till June 11 the candidates will be given election marks on June 24. The Election Commission has set July 17 as the date for the by-elections. It should be noted that the seat of PP-97 Faisalabad-1 was vacated by Chaudhry Ajmal Cheema.
A close look reveals that seven out of the 18 candidates belong to PTI, four belong to PML-N; Tariq Mahmood Bajwa from Pakistan People’s Party has filed three separate nomination papers. Similarly, two candidates belonging to Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) are also in the fray.
PP-97 candidates of all major political parties have already started their liaison campaigns for the by-elections in Faisalabad-1. Among them are PML-N’s Azad Ali Tabassum, Member Punjab Assembly, elected in 2013 from the same constituency, Chaudhry Ali Afzal Sahi, ticket holders of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and his brother Junaid Afzal Sahi.
Former Pakistan People’s Party National Assembly member Tariq Mehmood Bajwa has also emerged as a candidate. Chaudhry Ajmal Cheema, who was elected as an independent member of the Punjab Assembly in 2018, is also at the forefront in this field.
The politics of Chak Jhumra are mainly based on the community and the constituency is the largest in the Jutt community. From here, it is usually the candidate from the Jutt community who succeeds, except for the 2013 elections because at the time a popular PML-N was participating in the elections and it gave its ticket to party worker Azad Ali Tabassum.
Chaudhry Ajmal Cheema was also present in the field as an independent candidate as he did not get a ticket from PTI, and contrary to all analysis, Cheema was elected as an independent candidate by defeating Aza Ali Tabassum of PML-N and Ali Afzal Sahi of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
He later joined the Jahangir Tareen group and then Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and remained part of the Punjab cabinet. In the 2018 general elections, Ajmal Cheema won with 42,273 votes while his opponent Ali Afzal Sahi of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf got 37,932 votes while Azad Ali Tabassum of PML-N bagged 35,298 votes. In the current situation, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf will be content with Sahi brothers for the by-elections while the PML-N has clearly announced that its ticket will be given to the DC member of the Punjab Assembly while the PPP will also support the same candidate. If this formula is implemented now, then Chaudhry Ajmal Cheema will be the PML-N candidate while PPP candidate Tariq Bajwa will also support him. It should be noted that a public relations campaign has been launched by all the candidates.