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LAHORE, May 17: The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) which the Pakistan People’s Party believed would help it win the May 11 election is, in fact, responsible for the party’s debacle, especially in Punjab, observe PPP leaders.

“Had billions of rupees disbursed under the ill-conceived BISP allocated to clear the circular debt, the loadshedding issue would have been controlled well before the polls,” a PPP leader said. His view was endorsed by the other members of the Punjab PPP Executive Committee meeting here on Friday.

Former opposition leader in Punjab Assembly Raja Riaz, Punjab PPP Secretary-General Tanvir Ashraf Kaira, Manzoor Wattoo, Tasneem Qureshi, Aslam Gill, Ijaz Sama, Tariq Gujjar, Azizur Rehman Chan, Nawab Sher Wasair, Dewan Ghulam Muhayuddin, Manzoor Maneka, Beelum Hasnain, Khurram Khosa and Auranzeb Burki were present in the meeting.

“The government kept pumping in billions (Rs50 to Rs70 billion annually) in the BISP, ignoring the all important challenge of loadshedding. In fact, we are victim of poor policies of our government,” the PPP leader said, adding the circular debt was about Rs400 billion and the billions ‘wasted’ in BISP could have cleared this debt ending the energy crisis.

Another member of the committee said the PPP government was confident that millions of BISP beneficiaries would certainly vote for the PPP which did not happen at the end of the day.

“We were assured by the leadership that the loadshedding would be controlled some six months before the general election but it failed to fulfill its promise even with us. In the end the people punished the PPP candidates for snatching their livelihood because of energy crisis,” he said.

The executive committee members also targeted former premiers Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervaiz Ashrad for their poor handling of the loadshedding and corruption issues that cost the party dearly.

A senior PPP leader from Lahore was of the view that though rigging had been committed and international players also did not want the PPP come to power in the Centre, but at the end of the day the PPP government’s failure to end loadshedding was the main reason of its (PPP) route in Punjab.

After the meeting, Wattoo told reporters that the PPP had reservations on 'massive rigging’ and demanded the Election Commission to verify the voters’ thumb impression through National Database Registration Authority in 25 per cent constituencies of Punjab. He said rigging had been committed under a ‘comprehensive plan’.

A couple of days ago, Wattoo told journalists in Lahore that the ECP had conducted free and fair elections.

He said the PPP, the ANP and the MQM were not allowed to run their election campaign, while the PML-N was given a free hand in Punjab.