ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Sunday dismissed the allegations leveled by PTI leader Jamshed Iqbal Cheema and his covering candidate, his wife, for the NA-133 Lahore by-polls as “ill-founded”.
In a statement issued a day after the returning officer (RO) rejected the nomination papers of Cheema and his wife Musarrat, the ECP said Cheema accused it of transferring the votes of his proposers from NA-133 to some other constituency.
The RO had rejected their nomination papers on the grounds that the proposers and seconders for the two were not residents of the constituency, as required under the relevant election laws.
The electoral body said their votes are registered in NA-130 since 2018, adding that 2018 voter lists and subsequent review lists are available on record to back up its claim and vowed not to make any compromise over the transparency of the election.
On Saturday, the ruling PTI had decided to challenge the ECP decision of rejecting the nomination papers of Cheema and his wife.
Speaking to the media, Cheema had said that no one could be barred from participating in the election process on a technical basis. The biggest party of the country could not be deprived of the right to contest the by-election, he had said.
The NA-133 seat fell vacant after the death of PML-N MNA Parvaiz Malik who had won the seat in the 2018 general elections.
Malik emerged victorious while getting around 89,000 votes and the PTI candidate, Ejaz Chaudhry, stood at number two with around 77,000 votes. Chaudhry is a senator now and his focus is mainly on parliamentary politics.
Paper’s rejection disappoints PTI workers
Meanwhile, stated that the rejection of Cheema’s papers has not only exposed many loopholes in the PTI organisation but also showed a visible disappointment in the ranks of the party workers as not many of them had applied for the ticket of the ruling party this time.
Within days after the seat fell vacant, the PTI leadership awarded a ticket to Cheema, who was already serving as special assistant to the prime minister. Punjab Assembly MNA Musarrat Jamshed Cheema, who is also his wife, was made the covering candidate.
The PTI did not bother to file nomination papers of other party members from a constituency where it got above 77,000 votes just three years ago. Even if the party got half number of votes in the by-polls, it could have created an upset, according to the publication.
Another sad aspect regarding this constituency, the report said, is the depressed situation of the workers. Muhammed Madni was the only prominent figure who showed interest in contesting the by-polls, though the ticket was hurriedly announced for Cheema.
The criticism of party leadership over the issue of governance, particularly its inability to control price hikes has created a sense of uncertainty in the PTI cadres and this has become the main reason for not receiving a very healthy or vibrant response from the workers in applying for the party ticket or even filing nomination papers.
Some sections in the party circles also believe that the party leadership has shown a very casual attitude to the NA-133 by-polls after realising that it will not be easy to defeat PML-N in this constituency of Lahore due to the issues related to the performance of the government.