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PESHAWAR, July 2: The allotment of tickets to candidates for by-elections by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has disappointed its senior workers, who allege that merit has been violated in the process.

The old guard of PTI claimed that even the candidates weren’t interviewed by the parliamentary board for awarding tickets.

“PTI has become a family limited party as it has again violated merit in giving tickets to candidates. None of the 22 applicants for NA-1 was interviewed and everything was done in arbitrary manner,” Zafarullah Khattak, PTI former city district president and organiser of Peshawar, told Dawn.

The by-elections will be held for five National Assembly seats and four provincial assembly seats in the province. Three of the National Assembly seats became vacant after PTI MNAs-elect retained their provincial assembly seats while two other seats were vacated by JUI chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

Mr Khattak said that the decision would further tarnish the image of PTI in the eyes of people. He said that a group of three persons decided about awarding tickets.

He said that the only decision made on merit was to retain candidates for two provincial assembly seats -- PK-23 and PK-27 -- in Mardan. He added that Dr Imran Khattak, the son-in-law of Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, was awarded ticket for NA-5. The seat fell vacant after Pervez Khattak retained his provincial seat.

The family of the chief minister will have four seats in National Assembly if the PTI’s nominee wins the by-election scheduled on August 22 as three of his women relatives are already MNAs.

Likewise, ticket for NA-13, Swabi, vacated by Asad Qaisar, is likely to go to his younger brother despite the fact at least 20 workers, including those having 15 years association with Imran Khan, have applied for the ticket. “We were in PTI when people call it Tonga Party. Today vested interest groups have hijacked it. The ideological workers are being shown the door,” a candidate for Swabi seat said.

He said that it would send wrong message and most of PTI workers would stay away from the by-election.

“We were unhappy over violation in award of tickets in the general elections. Chairman Imran Khan conceded that merit was violated in selection of candidates but amazingly there is more rampant nepotism,” said another disgruntled PTI worker.

The PTI leaders said that the old workers were sidelined by a group that was at helm of affairs in the province. PTI workers also held protest near the press club where they accused the leadership of awarding tickets to handpicked men of those, who were already in the government.

“The people, who joined the party only 20 months ago, have got power and several assembly seats for their relatives and friends. They again succeeded in getting tricks for the by-election,” said Zafarullah Khattak.