PESHAWAR, Jul 20 (APP):Peshawar is all set to witness a tough electoral battle between veteran politician and former Federal Minister Al-Hajj Ghulam Ahmed Bilour of ANP and former Town Nazim, Shaukat Ali of PTI on NA-31 Peshawar-V where all arrangements were completed for free, fair and transparent election on July 25, 2018.
As only few days left in the election, electioneering pace has reached to its peak in NA-31 Peshawar (former NA-I) where one-on-one contest is expected between Ghulam Ahmed Bilour and Haji Shaukat Ali.
Bilour is a strong candidate as he had won this seat for record four times in the past, even defeating former Prime Minister and PPP Chairperson Shaheed Benazir Bhutto in 1990 election.
However, he had faced crushing defeat at the hands of PTI Chief Imran Khan in 2013 general election by a huge margin of around 60,000 votes.
Bilour staged a comeback in the national assembly in 2013 by-election after Imran Khan quit the constituency, defeating PTI’s Gul Badshah by a big margin of 6000 plus votes.
He started political career after joining ANP in 1970s following participation in Presidential Election campaign of Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah in 1965. He was elected to Senate of Pakistan in 1975.
Popularly known as Haji Sahib, he also contested 1988 election from then NA-1 Peshawar but remained unsuccessful and lost to another senior politician and Chairman Qumi Watan Party Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao on PPP ticket.
However, he emerged victorious in by-election in 1988 and became member of the national assembly for first time. He elected to national assembly in 1990, 1993 and 2008 from his home constituency of NA-I.
Ghulam Bilour had served Federal Minister for Railways twice and Federal Minister for Local Government and Rural Development. He faced tragic deaths of his brother Bashir Bilour Shaheed and nephew Haroon Bilour Shaheed with steadfastness and sympathies votes may benefit him in the election.
On the other hand, PTI has fielded millionaires former Town Nazim Haji Shaukat Ali who is posing serious challenge to the seasoned politician. He has made significant development work in the constituency when he was town nazim and is enjoying support of the party vote bank.
The candidates are diligently wooing voters for a secure win over one another the incumbency factor would benefit Ghulam Ahmed Bilour while PTI candidate would be seeking votes on basis of their provincial government’s five years performance in KP.
A total of 13 candidates are flexing muscle from NA-31 include Muhammad Nadeem of PML-N, Akhunzada Irfanullah Shah of PPPP and Muhammad Siddiqur Rehman Piracha from Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Pakistan (MMA) and they can surprise many on the D-Day.
The fate of these candidates would be decided by 390,211 registered voters including 223,574 male and 166,637 female on Wednesday next. The overall registered voters’ in this constituency in 2013 election was 320,578, showing an increase of 69633 voters on voters list during the last five years and decision of these new voters would be a key factor in losing and winning of candidates.
This constituency has a mixture Hindku, Pashtun and other ethnic groups but the campaign on social media and political integrity of voters predict that majority vote would be cast on party basis.
The contestants are moving door to door as the campaign gains momentum, pledges are made once again and so are the promises.
The history revealed that it has been the tendency of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa voters that they discarded the incumbent ruling parties in last three general elections.
In 1997, there was a PML-N led government that was replaced with MMA government in 2002 elections.
In 2008 election, MMA was voted out with ANP ascending the throne that was once again replaced with the PTI led government.
Seeing this past tendency, there can be difficult times ahead for PTI but as the party had claimed to deliver during its five year tenure in KP, the situation may be in its favor.
The stature of candidates can also not be ignored as personal popularity and contact with people also matters much in the elections. Since it is a key constituency for Bilour family and ANP, they would be putting in maximum to secure this seat on July 25, 2018.