Party leaders say they had to be very selective in assigning tickets.
The streets of Faisalabad are abuzz with political activity and most of the candidates for local government elections have planned and launched their campaigns. Yet several political party workers have complained about being side-lined in the distribution of party tickets. Some have even announced that they would contest the election as independent candidates.
Earlier this week, scores of workers of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) staged a demonstration against distribution of party tickets for the local body elections. They gathered at Chowk Zila Council and walked to the Faisalabad Press Club. The protesters held up banners and placards.
Muhammad Ehsan Sattar said he had been a PTI worker for 13 years. “When it came to the distribution of party tickets, the leadership ignored honest and committed workers and handed out tickets to turncoats.”
He was joined by Mian Mushtaq who told journalists that Sattar had wanted to contest the election as a candidate for the chairman’s seat in UC 135. Mushtaq said he had wanted to contest the election as a candidate for the vice chairman seat. “We were both side-lined…the PTI issued tickets to workers who are not loyal to the party.”
Malik Sharafat Ali, another protester, said Atta Khan, the brother of PTI worker Haq Nawaz who had died in a protest, had nominated him as a candidate from UC 78, however the party had not given him a ticket. He said he had decided to contest the election as an independent candidate.
Ali said the men given tickets for the chairman and vice chairman seats were in fact loyal to the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
Some of the protesters said if the PTI did not reconsider its decision, they would have to cut ties with the PTI. “This could result in a crushing defeat for the PTI.”
PTI’s district organiser Asad Muazzam said he realised that many workers were probably feeling resentful. “We had many applications for party tickets. The number of applications for seats of councillors, chairmen and vice chairmen ranged from three to 12 per union council, he said.
Parliamentary boards try their best to find the best possible candidate to field in the election. “We see if they have roots in a particular constituency and whether they can motivate their voters.”
He said when deciding who to give a ticket to, members of the parliamentary board consulted with diehard PTI sympathisers, old workers and candidates from the general election. “We hold surveys to assess the vote strength and popularity of aspiring candidates.”
Muazzam said it was natural for those left out to feel resentful, he said.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Women Youth Wing president Nasira Begum is one such resentful party worker. She spoke to journalists earlier this week and she was not being supported in the local body elections because of the party’s internal politics.
She said instead of handing a ticket for the election from UC 72 to a party worker, MPA Sheikh Ejaz had offered a ticket to a member of the Awami Tehreek. “He declined the PML-N ticket and now it will go to waste.”
She said she was the sole PML-N member from her UC who was planning to contest elections but Ejaz was not supporting her because of the party’s internal politics. Nasira Begum threatened to commit suicide if the party leadership did not back her in the election.
PML-N Faisalabad City president MPA Sheikh Ejaz told The Express Tribune that Nasira Begum was from the Mayor Group which is patronised by former mayor Chaudhary Sher Ali.
He said party leaders had persuaded her to abandon her plans of committing suicide. He said the PML-N was planning to keep the constituency open and not issue tickets to anyone.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2015.