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January 21, 2013
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Deserting MNAs who joined PPP were dumped by PML-N

January 21, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: Raja Mohammad Afzal, who along with his two MNA sons has joined the PPP, put to an end his 27-year long association with the PML-N essentially because of its internal strife in his native Jhelum district.
For quite sometime, the Sharif brothers were according less importance to Raja Afzal and giving more weight to the powerful party figures and group, opposed to him, which became the real cause of his desertion. Both of his sons, Raja Safdar and Raja Asad, were elected to the National Assembly in the 2008 polls on PML-N tickets.
Raja Afzal’s affiliation with the Sharif brothers started in 1985, when he was elected an MNA in the non-party polls. He used to defend them, using very harsh language against the PPP, in the National Assembly sessions, old timers, who are witness to his performance, recall.
What finally made Raja Afzal to say goodbye to the PML-N was the by-election to the Punjab Assembly seat, PP-26, which was held seven weeks back. To avoid tussle in Jhelum, the PML-N refused to give its ticket to him or his opponent and declared the contest open.
Both sides, belonging to the PML-N, ran for the seat as independent candidates. Raja Afzal bagged 20,782 votes and was defeated by his rival Chaudhry Khadim Hussain of Garmala group, who secured 39,390 votes.
The ruling coalition’s joint nominee, Arif Chaudhry of PML-Q, could manage only 17,189 votes. The seat had fallen vacant due to the disqualification of Chaudhry Khadim’s son, Nadeem, who was elected in 2008, for having dual nationality. His father was given ticket to accommodate the family and because of its clout in the constituency.
While contesting as PML-N candidate in the 2008 elections, Raja Safdar got 92,479 votes in NA-62, defeating PML-Q’s Chaudhry Shahbaz Hussain, the former federal minister, who clinched 62,524 votes. PPP representative Chaudhry Sohail Zafar bagged just 20,080 votes.
In the contest for NA-63, Afzal’s other son, Raja Asad, had secured

79,662 votes routing PML-Q’s Chaudhry Shahbaz Hussain (51,666 votes) and PPP’s Aliuzzaman (24,476 votes).
The Rajas had a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari in Karachi where they announced to quit the PML-N and join the PPP. Raja Afzal, who has been elected to the parliament seven times, avoided finding fault with the PML-N, maybe in view of his long association with it.
For some time, Raja Afzal had indications from Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif that the PML-N would award its ticket only to one of his sons in the next general elections while its sponsorship for the other seat, won by his other son, would be given to Nawabzada Iqbal Mehdi. Given this situation, he thought it prudent to leave the PML-N and associate with the PPP with the hope that he and both of his sons would fielded as its nominees in the fresh polls.
The Rajas’ departure has turned out to be a setback for the PML-N, which continues to fly high with the expectation that it has not suffered much due to their exit.
However, it is a considerable boost to the PPP in Punjab where it continues to encounter troubles, lacking winnable new entrants. Such movements are part of the pre-election change of loyalties, which is mainly caused by considerations in the district or constituency politics. If one dominant group is associated with a certain political party, the other can’t remain affiliated with it and has to go to another force. However, these area influentials have lots of personal votes, which, if added to a party’s following, can bring success to them.

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