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OKARA: Preparations for by-elections in NA-144 have exposed party discipline when aspiring candidates of three major political parties decided to contest the polls despite being denied tickets.

The by-election is scheduled to be held on Oct 11. The seat was vacated after PML-N MNA Muhammad Arif Chaudhry was de-seated by an election tribunal in Multan.

After announcement of the election schedule, the PPP awarded ticket to its District President Chaudhry Sajjadul Hasan refusing the party’s former provincial assembly ticket-holder Mehr Abdul Sattar. However, Sattar announced that he would contest the election despite PPP Punjab President Manzoor Wattoo trying to convince him to withdraw in favour of Hasan.

Similarly, the PML-N awarded ticket to Arif Chaudhry’s son Ali Arif. But another aspirant, Chaudhry Riazul Haq Juj, opted to contest the election as an independent candidate as this was the second time he had been denied a party ticket; the first time was before the 2013 general elections.

PML-N MNA Hamza Shahbaz contacted Juj to withdraw his candidature in favour of Ali Arif, but he refused. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) awarded a ticket to Ashraf Khan Sohna, who had been a provincial minister and PPP’s district president but joined PTI a few months back.

Sole PTI MPA in the district Masood Shafqat Rubera was openly supporting Juj, but the PTI leadership could not make him follow party discipline.

Elections campaigns had started after after Eidul Azha holidays and candidates had put up posters and banners across the constituency.

Published in Dawn, September 30th , 2015

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