Monday, October 3

Strong but divided opposition

Data Gunj Baksh Town has suffered the most because of the creation of new towns. It had 33 UCs, virtually controlling the whole of Lahore but now has shrunk to 18 UCs only. In the Local Government elections of 2001, the seat for Town Nazim was allotted to Azhar Saeed Butt, a trader from Shah Alam market and President Qaumi Tajir Ittehad. Alamdar Shah was nominated as his deputy – virtually an unknown person to Lahore politics. It was totally a wrong decision resulting into town going to the opposition candidate Khawaja Ahmed Hassan, who had lost his UC election (UC 78) just a month before. Finally, after a struggle of one year, a no-confidence move was initiated, led by Tariq Sana Bajwa, now an ‘official’ candidate for the Town Nazim. There were two no-confidence moves made due to a technical problem. The legal battle went on for about 18 months, reaching the Supreme Court at length. Finally, the Apex Court ordered the no-confidence move to go ahead and Khawaja Hassan was removed with majority vote going against him. It is interesting to note that it was the only ‘No Confidence’ move, which got completed in both the phases. The rest of the same nature were kept pending with the courts for decisions in the entire Punjab. Tariq Sana Bajwa – an old band in politics since 1981 and from Jatt clan – stinted as Town Nazim was short (remained only for 8 months) but adjudicated at any performance standards, is considered to be impressive.
Though the Data Gunj Baksh Town has been declared as one of the best towns of the metropolis, but problems faced by the residents of the Town negate this assertion. Yes! It can be the best town as far as the chances of the opposition to secure at least one Town in the District are concerned. On the other hand, this Town is also a potential area, which can become a political quagmire, as it was during the first four years, which continues to haunt the people and their representatives even to date. Hopefully, the ‘official’ party will reconcile if the opposition wins here. Nevertheless, people anticipate the incumbents to be concentrating more on gaining political mileage, and actualise more objectives.
Three candidates are in for the run for the Town Nazim slot. Mian Marghoob Ahmed is a consensus candidate of the opposition, and on paper, he is a strong candidate because out of 18 UCs, 15 have gone to the opposition parties, while it is difficult to count the number of councillors, who are supporting him. However, he claims that more than 165 elected representatives are on his side, while his opponent PML (Q) candidate Tariq Sana Bajwa avers that he has support of 147 candidates. Interestingly, when it is asked to give the break-up of number of supporters in various union councils, it was avoided on one pretext or the other. Their total comes to 312 out of possible 234. On the other hand, another independent candidate Malik Bahadur Hussain is still in the field, but not in a position to make it to the Town Nazim slot. Earlier, Rao Muhammad Javed of Jama’at-e-Islami had withdrawn in favour of Mian Marghoob Ahmed.
PML (N), JI and PPPP have won about 75, 40, and 45 respectively – 160 in total. So Mian Marghoob’s claim seems to be correct on papers, but due to his conflict with Ch Asghar of PPP, it is said that he is not supporting the opposition candidate. “A reconciliation has been made between them, but it is not to affect positively because they have not joined hands actually to provide him the real support. Hence the PPP is not going to support Mian Marghoob,” said one of the UC Nazims on condition of anonymity.
Another factor is of ex-President PML (N) Lahore Haji Haneef, who has defected to the PML (Q). He has quite a huge influence in the Town, and his defection would play a tangible role.
“The opposition will not win this Nazim slot because money and Ch. Shafqat are in action. Money is bigger than any person and ideology. There are no minuses for the official party except the arrogant attitude of Tariq Bajwa, but this is not an issue under the present circumstances. Moreover, Mian Marghoob is a weak candidate with a lot of conflicts with the important personalities of the Town,” said a staunch supporter of the PML (N) and Nazim of one of the UCs. To him, pragmatism lies in supporting the official party.
Succinctly, this is probably the most important town of the metropolis and the opposition stands a big chance to win here, but some disadvantages must be dealt with before it is too late. Problems for the future dispensation are of divergent nature – from criminals ruling the streets to dirty water and scarcity even of this in a few areas, encroachment, worn-out roads, choked sewage system and the rest in bad shape, poor sanitation and pollution – relatively the largest ‘reservoir’ for producing pollution.

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