With the highly anticipated February 8 elections just a fortnight away, the PML-N has achieved a significant breakthrough as local party leaders set aside their differences and pledged their support to the party’s candidates on the polling day.
This development took formal shape on Thursday when Raja Matloob Mehdi and Raja Talib Mehdi met PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif in Lahore. They officially declared their decision to endorse Chaudhry Farrukh Altaf, the PML-N nominee for NA-61 Jhelum II.
Likewise, Hamid Hameed, who initially expressed discontent over the party ticket allocation to Dr Liaquat for NA-84 in Sargodha and announced his intention to run as an independent candidate, has now chosen to withdraw his candidacy and fully support the PML-N candidate.
The PML-N faced internal disagreements over the distribution of party tickets, especially to those who had previously defected from the PTI during the 2022 no-confidence motion to overthrow the government. Farrukh Altaf is among those who switched allegiance.
On the flip side, Hameed was one of the successful PML-N candidates in the controversial 2018 elections, winning from the constituency previously designated as NA-90 (Sargodha III). Liaquat also emerged victorious, securing a seat in the Punjab Assembly from PP-77 (Sargodha-VI).
Earlier, Talal Chaudhry, a prominent PML-N figure, decided to accept the party’s decision to nominate Nawab Sher Wasir, a recent addition from the PTI, as the candidate for NA-96 in Faisalabad. Despite campaigning vigorously for the party ticket, Talal graciously aligned with the chosen candidate for the greater good of the party. Meanwhile, the two provincial assembly seats falling under NA-96 have PML-N candidates proposed and endorsed by Talal.
There are unconfirmed reports suggesting that Talal may be accommodated in the Senate soon, as elections for the Upper House of Parliament are scheduled for March.
On Wednesday, various representative bodies of traders in Faisalabad announced their alliance with the PML-N, providing a significant boost to the party’s prospects in the second-largest city of Punjab. However, their support comes with several demands, with the implementation of a mass transit system in Faisalabad topping the list.