NA-154 by-elections today in Lodhran
12 February, 2018
Voting for the NA-154 by-elections started in Lodhran on Monday morning for the seat that had become vacant following the disqualification of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's Jahangir Tareen by the Supreme Court last year.
PPP candidate Mirza Muhammad Ali Baig, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Ali Khan Tareen and PML-N’s Muhammad Iqbal Shah are in the running. Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan is supporting independent candidate Azhar Sandila. Six other candidates are also taking part in the polls, bringing the total number of candidates to 10.
A total of 388 poling stations and 1,043 polling booths have been set up to cater to the 431,000-strong population of the region. Army personnel have been deployed at every polling station on the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) request.
Candidates fined by ECP
The ECP on Sunday sent out notices fining PML-N's Muhammad Iqbal Shah Rs30,000 for violating the code of conduct and holding a corner meeting with his associates after the time for electioneering was up.
PTI's Ali Tareen has also been fined Rs40,000 for holding a political gathering in Lodhran, which was addressed by PTI chief Imran Khan, after the time for electioneering was over in the constituency. The ECP had already warned Khan and Tareen that addressing a rally in Lodhran would be a violation of the ECP code of conduct.
This is the third election being held for the seat in the past four years. In the 2013 general election, Jahangir Tareen was the runner up from NA-154. Siddique Baloch had, as an independent candidate, defeated Jahangir by a margin of 10,000 votes — a victory that was contested by the latter in a petition with the election tribunal.
Jahangir had accused Siddique of possessing a fake degree and committing irregularities during the 2013 general election. In 2015, the Supreme Court had ordered a re-election, which was won by Jahangir by over 35,000 votes.
Lack of vigour
Monday's by-poll sees the return of former federal minister Mirza Nasir Baig to the PPP who has fielded his son as the party candidate. He had earlier left the party before the 2015 by-polls and joined the PML-N.
Those interested in electoral science are curious to see if the PPP makes any difference in the constituency, which has been dominated by Siddique and Jahangir since 2008.
A lack of vigour in the election activity has been observed in the area and attributed to the absence of Siddique, who has decided to opt of the by-polls.
Jahangir has fielded his son Ali Khan Tareen as PTI's candidate while Siddique's son Umair Khan Baloch had also submitted his nomination papers but later, during a PML-N meeting, Siddique had expressed his unwillingness to take part in the election because of its high cost.
The party refused to sponsor electioneering for his son and decided that Shah, the former tehsil nazim of Dunyapur and the father of MPA Amir Iqbal, will be its candidate.
PML-N Lodhran president Tahir Amir Ghauri has opposed the party choice and said the party had become hostage to electable at the cost of loyal workers. While the PML-N was busy selecting the candidate, the Tareen family was working tirelessly to clinch the poll.