News Analysis |
The 2018 Lodhran by-elections in NA-154 turned out to be a major setback for the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). Ali Tareen, the PTI candidate for the seat, failed to win back the seat vacated by his father Jahangir Tareen after his disqualification. PML-N’s candidate Peer Iqbal Shah won the seat with a big margin of 27, 609 votes.
A total of 388 polling stations and 1043 polling booths were installed to cater for the 431,000 population of Lodhran. The winning party PML-N won 113,542 votes followed by PTI’s 85,933 votes. The third place was taken by an independent candidate Azhar Sandela with 10,227 votes. He was supported by Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan. The Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) performance was very dismal in the elections as they only managed to win 3,181 votes.
It has been predicted that owing to their good performance in the recent elections, major political parties will be approaching the TLY for its support in the 2018 general elections. They might become the kingmakers in the next elections.
There were no reports about rigging in the elections and the results were accepted gracefully by all parties involved. NA-154 is considered to be a stronghold of PTI because Jahangir Tareen made heavy investments in the area and started a number of welfare projects there. He had won comfortably in the 2015 by-elections, defeating PML-N candidate Siddiq Baloch by 36,423 votes.
Read more: Voting underway in Lodhran by-elections
The results were celebrated by the top PML-N leadership, declaring it a verdict of people against Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification. The daughter of the deposed prime minister and senior PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz Sharif celebrated the victory on Twitter. She tweeted that people have rejected the politics of lies and abuse. She also tweeted that the people have declared that Nawaz Sharif is qualified to become the PM once again. Other senior PML-N members also took to social media to celebrate their party’s victory.
عوام کے سارے فیصلے
ایک ہی اعلان کررہے ہیں
نوازشریف اہل ہے!
نوازشریف دِلوں میں بستا ہے۔
عوام کے فیصلوں کا احترام کرو— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) February 12, 2018
عوام کے فیصلوں کی توہین ہوتی ہے تو ان کے فیصلے بھی سخت ہوجاتے ہیں، ان کے وزیر اعظم کو نکالا جائے تو وہ بھی نوٹس لیتے ہیں ۔۔۔۔۔
— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) February 12, 2018
اللہ کے فضل سے ۲۰۱۸کے الیکشن کا چاند آج لودھراں سے نکل آیا ہے.عوام سے کیے وعدے پورے کئے جس کا نتیجہ نکل رہا ہے.آج کی جیت نوازشریف کی عدل ، عوام کے ووٹ کے تقدس کی بحالی کی تحریک کی فتح کی پہلی نوید ہے.نوازشریف اہل ہے کہ نااہل عوام کی عدالت فیصلہ سنا اور نوٹس پہ نوٹس جاری کر رہی ہے— Marriyum Aurangzeb (@Marriyum_A) February 12, 2018
Thank you Lodhran for your trust in the leadership of PMLN… It's your victory… And we will continue to serve you… Congratulations to all the PMLN workers and our victorious candidate Iqbal Shah sb.— Shehbaz Sharif (Stay at home to stay safe) (@CMShehbaz) February 12, 2018
The PTI camps were dejected and deserted when their defeat was announced. PTI leaders Naeem ul Haq and Arif Alvi congratulated PML-N for the victory. PTI chief Imran Khan attempted to comfort his defeated side and told his workers not to lose hope. He encouraged them that every setback is an opportunity to learn and expressed hope that the 2018 elections will be won by PTI.
For all Insafians who are feeling dejected after NA154 result, every setback is an opportunity to analyse one's mistakes, correct them & come back stronger. Successful people, institutions & nations learn from their failures.— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) February 12, 2018
Those who get demoralised can never achieve their potential. In my decades of political struggle for Insaf I have never been demoralised but have come back stronger after confronting adversities. The 2018 election is ours inshaAllah. https://t.co/bwtQA90IWQ— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) February 12, 2018
Political analysts believe that the defeat was a major setback for PTI since losing in a home district will demoralize the workers. It shows that contrary to popular belief, the 28th July Panama Papers verdict was not a huge blow for the PML-N since they still have the support of the people behind their back. The Lodhran elections have revived the chances of PML-N once again coming to power after the 2018 elections despite having major setbacks in the form of graft cases against many of their leaders.
One of the reasons stated for PTI’s defeat is the nomination of Ali Tareen. The move was critcised on social and electronic media since the younger Tareen is very inexperienced in terms of politics and there were other senior leaders who could have contested the elections. The rivals of PTI accused them of supporting dynastic politics, something they have always claimed to be against. Ali Tareen clarified that he was not nominated by his father or the PTI chief, but by a workers committee in Lodhran.
It is unlikely that they’ll be able to come back and the recent elections in NA 120 Lahore, where they finished behind newly formed fundamentalist Tehreek-i-Labbaik, and NA 154 are a proof of that.
PTI is the biggest Pakistani party on social media according to many statistics. Social media has been their strength for the past many years but recently, PML-N has also increased its presence on social media owing to the need of the time. Media experts believe that it could also be one of the reasons for the revival of PML-N in Lodhran.
The by-elections of Lodhran have proved that the PPP has no strong voter base left in Punjab and the 2018 elections will be contested among PML-N and PTI. Political analysts have declared that PPP, one of the biggest parties in Pakistan, has been limited to Sindh. It is unlikely that they’ll be able to come back and the recent elections in NA 120 Lahore, where they finished behind newly formed fundamentalist Tehreek-i-Labbaik, and NA 154 are a proof of that.
The performance of Tehreek-i-Labbaik (TLY) has been very encouraging for them in the recent by-elections. They have proved their capability of becoming a major national level party. It has been predicted that owing to their good performance in the recent elections, major political parties will be approaching the TLY for its support in the 2018 general elections. They might become the kingmakers in the next elections.