Senior PPP leader Nadeem Afzal Chan’s decision to quit PPP and to join PTI is not surprising or shocking as it was expected for some time. But his departure is surely a big setback for already struggling PPP in Punjab. He was one of the most vocal PPP leader in Punjab criticising the PML-N government. PPP lost another potential candidate who was capable of winning the election. Nadeem Afzal Chan’ family enjoyed considerable support in this constituency.
His younger brother and former PPP MPA Waseem Afzal Chan joined the PTI last year. His uncle and another PPP stalwart and former federal minister Nazar Gondal too joined the PTI after spending decades in the PPP. Chan, who was considered as one of the close aides of Asif Ali Zardari, met PTI chief Imran Khan at his Bani Gala residence in Islamabad and announced to part ways with the PPP.
Starting his political career as a tehsil nazim from Malakwal in 2001, Nadeem Afzal Chan was elected to the National Assembly from NA-64 constituency in the 2008 general elections on the PPP’s ticket. He secured 65628 votes and defeated PML-N candidate with the margin of 5000 votes. He also contested the general election 2013 from the same constituency but lost to PML-N candidate Pir Amin ul Hasnat. Even though, Chan maintained his vote bank but the surge in the support of PML-N caused him a huge defeat. He got more than 67,000 votes but PML-N candidate got 1, 51,000 votes and defeated Chan with the huge margin of 83,000 votes.
The interesting fact is that PTI candidate in this constituency just managed to secure around 11,000 votes. This constituency is among the many in Punjab where PTI candidates performed so badly that it lost the surety deposit. It will be interesting to see how Chan will rally the support behind him on PTI ticket. He will contest the election from NA-89 (old NA-64).
In October last year, the senior leader resigned from his post as the party’s Punjab general secretary. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari tried to convince him to take back the resignation but he had refused.
PTI senior leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi played key role to bring Gondal family of Mandi Bahauddin in the fold of PTI. PTI failed to put up an impressive show in the last general elections in this district. PTI has been strengthened with the inclusion of Gondal family that will contest elections from two national and three provincial assembly seats. In 2008 general elections, Gondal family won two national and two provincial assembly seats on PPP ticket.
The Gondals, Tarars and Bosals belong to the Jutt clans and dominate the Mandi Bahauddin’s politics. These three influential families contest the elections against each other. The departure of all the Gondal family from PPP left the party with very few options. PPP will find it difficult to get strong candidates in this district.
On the other hand, PTI now has electables on all the seats of this district and one in Sargodha district. Very tough and interesting contest is expected in the upcoming elections in this district.
By Khalid Bhatti