PML-N’s candidate leading the contest in NA-154 by-polls in Lodhran

PML-N’s Muhammad Iqbal Shah is leading the contest as unofficial results have started to pour in after voting for the NA-154 by-elections concluded in Lodhran on Monday evening, DawnNews reported.

According to unofficial results of 280 polling stations, Shah is leading with 93,779 votes to his name, way ahead of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Ali Khan Tareen, who has bagged 69,508 votes so far.

The independent candidate backed by Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan is third with 8,955 votes while PPP’s candidate has managed to secure only 2,855 votes so far.

Voting had started early 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 contested the by-poll. Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan supported an independent candidate, Azhar Sandila. Six other candidates also took part in the polls, bringing the total number of candidates to 10.

A total of 388 polling stations and 1,043 polling booths were set up to cater to the 431,000-strong population of the region.

Army personnel were 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 was been fined Rs40,000 for holding a political gathering in Lodhran, which was addressed by PTI chief Imran Khan, after the time for campaigning 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 saw the return of former federal minister Mirza Nasir Baig to the PPP who 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 was observed in the area and attributed to the absence of Siddique, who has decided to opt of the by-polls.

Jahangir 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 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 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.

Local journalist Mirza Rajab Baig said the family had become the most powerful political group of the area because of the constant presence of Jahangir Tareen and his son in the constituency and their public welfare projects.

Source: Dawn

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