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PPP’s worst show in Lahore so far

May 12, 2013

LAHORE, May 11: Unofficial preliminary results of 2013 polls show the Pakistan People’s Party has been wiped out from the provincial metropolis.

Even in the 1997 elections, when the party was at its lowest in Lahore, it remained runner-up in seven out of nine National Assembly seats.

Saturday’s results show the worst-ever performance by the PPP candidates in 13 national and 25 provincial assembly seats of Lahore. Apart from PPP’s NA-130 candidate Samina Ghurki who secured 4,500 votes as per results arriving till the filing of this report at 12.30am, none other candidate of the party could manage to have a ‘respectable’ tally of votes.

The PPP’s Amir Hasan (NA-122) and Zubair Kardar (NA-120) could only manage to secure 205 and 350 votes, respectively, according to the unofficial results so far. None of the other PPP candidates, especially those contesting for provincial assembly seats, has even crossed 1,000 vote mark.

The PPP has accused the Election Commission of ‘facilitating’ the PML-N victory.

“The PML-N committed systematic rigging with the help of the ECP in Lahore and elsewhere,” PPP candidate for NA-125 Navid Chaudhry told Dawn. The PPP would provide a complete detail of “this rigging” to the media in coming days, he added. The PPP, before the election, had claimed it had ‘snatched’ Punjab, especially Lahore, from the PML-N.

As the election campaign progressed the PPP candidates started feeling the ‘change’ in mood of Lahorites. Its candidates refused to accept that the PPP that once ruled Punjab and remained a tough competitor of the PML-N for the last two decades or so was no where in the picture in the largest province.

The PPP in the last (2008) elections had won two national and as many provincial assemblies seats.

CONSPICUOUS BY ITS ABSENCE: For the first time in the last four decades of its existence, the Pakistan People’s Party was conspicuous by its absence from the Lahore electoral contest on Saturday. In several constituencies, it was not even visible; no banners, no workers, no camps and not even polling agents.

So much so that at many polling stations the PPP workers preferred to side with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf candidates, sensing their own were ‘poorly placed’. The PPP’s absence had virtually turned the fight for Lahore a two-party affair with the PTI as a new entrant.

A visit to city constituencies by Dawn on Saturday showed the PPP workers were convinced this time at least it was a two-party contest, with PTI replacing their party, which was shocking for ‘jialas’.

There were several polling stations in different constituencies where the PPP had no camps to facilitate their voters in getting their (vote) serial numbers.

Even where the party had set up such camps, its workers showed no enthusiasm and did not bother to lobby for their candidates. Rather in some cases the PPP workers sat in the PTI camps and canvassed for its candidates.

“We are sitting with the PTI fellows as we do not consider them our rivals,” said Nasir Shah at a Dharampura polling station. “Practically speaking we do not have much support here. Therefore, some of us are considering seeking votes for the PTI candidate who appears to be better placed,” he said laughingly.

Aziz Ahmad, another PPP worker in Samanabad said: “I have been a diehard PPP worker for the last two decades but I have cast the vote against the PML-N and in favour of the PTI. I am still a Bhutto lover but I did not want to waste my vote,” a visibly dejected Ahmad said.

However, the party was at least visible in NA-130 where PPP Lahore president Samina Ghurki was in the run. Though the PPP had set up camps outside the polling stations, its workers looked worried there as well. “I think we had a chance to retain this seat but things have changed altogether as the ‘change wave’ seems to have taken this constituency too,” Rana Azeem said.

“For the first time I did not feel good being a polling agent for the PPP candidate because most voters turning up here either belong to the PML-N or PTI,” Malik Naseer told Dawn at Boys High School Walton.

“I used to be much enthusiastic in the past elections because my party was among the main contestants. But now I am not feeling good. I wish my party gets back its past glory,” Naseer said.