Home Global Village Voting underway in Lodhran by-elections

Voting underway in Lodhran by-elections

Lodhran

News Analysis |

Voting is underway in the NA-154 by-elections in Lodhran. The seat fell vacant after Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Tareen was disqualified last year by the Supreme Court (SC) under Article 62 (1)(f). Army personnel are present in the constituency at the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) request.

A total number of 10 candidates are competing for the NA seat including PPP’s Mirza Muhamamd Ali Baig, PTI’s Ali Khan Tareen and PML-N’s Muhammad Iqbal Shah. Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan is supporting an independent candidate Azhar Sandila. A total of 388 polling stations and 1043 polling booths have been installed to cater for the 431,000 population of Lodhran.

Reports are still showing that PTI has the most chances of winning the NA-154 by-elections. If it does, it would be a major blow for PML-N who are quickly losing their support in all the other provinces and relying on Punjab for a win in the 2018 elections.

The real competition is said to be between PTI and PML-N. Media experts believe that the winning party will carry a huge momentum towards the upcoming 2018 general elections. This is the third election being held in the constituency, the first was won by a PML-N backed independent Siddique Baloch against PTI’s Jahangir Tareen by a margin of around 10,000 votes.

Tareen later accused Siddique of possessing a fake degree and misconduct during the 2013 elections. The SC ordered a re-election in NA-154 which was won by Tareen with a margin of more than 35,000 votes. Media reports have hinted that the Tareen family has become really powerful in the constituency because of their constant presence and welfare projects.

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No rigorous campaigning was seen by either of the parties during the election. The PTI candidate Ali Tareen campaigned hard for the project but the whole party effort was absent. PML-N appeared to be disorderly since they spent a long of time on deciding on a candidate. Former MNA from the NA-154 seat Siddique Baloch refused to contest the election owing to its stake. Muhammad Iqbal Shah was finally decided as the candidate but the local PML-N leadership wasn’t very happy with the choice.

The elections are also a major chance for PPP to make a comeback since their support in Punjab has died down to a great extent. To avoid becoming a regional political party, the PPP must score a significant number of votes in the upcoming by-elections.

During the PP-20 Chakwal elections earlier this year, PML-N defeated PTI but the credit was given to Tehreek-i-Labaik for breaking PTI’s vote bank. PML-N candidate Haider Sultan had won the by-election in PP-20 Chakwal-I by bagging 75,934 votes followed by PTI nominee Tariq Afzal, who secured 46,025 votes. On the other hand, the candidate of Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan, Chaudhry Nasir Abbas, secured 16,576 votes.

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A similar situation is expected to arise in Lodhran according to political experts. The weaker presence of PPP in the region and smaller parties like Tehreek-i-Labbaik are not expected to win the elections but they are expected make a dent to the vote bank of bigger parties like PTI and PML-N. It is not sure as of now who will suffer from the presence of smaller parties because it could go against either of them. Tehreek-i-Labbaik, a new player in Pakistani politics has proved that it has support among the public and a significant vote bank during the previous few elections that they’ve been a part in.

Tareen later accused Siddique of possessing a fake degree and misconduct during the 2013 elections. The SC ordered a re-election in NA-154 which was won by Tareen with a margin of more than 35,000 votes.

PML-N being the ruling party in Punjab has the natural advantage since it is always difficult to beat an incumbent party in the election but the particular seat belonged to PTI, which claims to be the most popular party of Pakistan.

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The candidacy of Ali Tareen has been subject to criticism by political and media circles since PTI chief Imran Khan claims that he will end dynastic politics in the country but he still gave the seat to Jahangir Tareen’s son after his disqualification.

Reports are still showing that PTI has the most chances of winning the NA-154 by-elections. If it does, it would be a major blow for PML-N who are quickly losing their support in all the other provinces and relying on Punjab for a win in the 2018 elections. The elections are also a major chance for PPP to make a comeback since their support in Punjab has died down to a great extent. To avoid becoming a regional political party, the PPP must score a significant number of votes in the upcoming by-elections.

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