LAHORE – The ticket-awarding process of PTI and PML-N can compel their left-out potential candidates to contest polls as independents, The Nation has learnt.

Though PML-N is the most-burdened party of Punjab in terms of potential candidates at its disposal, PTI has also more than two potential contenders in many constituencies. In addition, in some areas, both the parties are facing dilemma over the issue of awarding tickets.

The PTI had claimed it would award tickets strictly following the party’s rules of business even at the cost of potential candidates. The PML-N which accepted many bigwigs in the party is under immense pressure from various groups across the province for tickets. It is worth mentioning that its 22-member strong parliamentary board has been constituted to ensure that only the true party loyalists will get the board’s nod for contesting the polls.

Both the parties have scores of PML-Q and PPP turncoats among their ranks while most of them enjoy strong influence in their constituencies. At the same time, the two parties have also potential candidates at their disposal.

Deciding on the party tickets in favour of one can force the other to contest against the party candidate.

The two PTI potential candidates, Inam Ullah Niazi, NA-72 (Mianwali), and Sardar Assef Ahmed Ali, NA-140 (Kasur), left out of the ticket race, announced to contest the general elections as independents. However, the PTI top leadership claimed both were left out of the process with the consensus of the parliamentary board.

Similarly, PML-N’s old guard in PP-36 (Sargodha) protested in advance against the award of ticket to Rana Munawar Ghous who joined the leaders of Raiwind after disassociating himself from the PPP as its sitting Punjab Assembly member.

The PML-N local leaders from South Punjab have also raised voice against the possible award of tickets to the PML-Q turncoats who had formed the Forward Bloc in the Punjab Assembly though the PML-N top leadership claims it has decided the matter with the consent of the party runner ups in the Bloc members’ constituencies for awarding tickets to them.

In a unique protest, an aged PML-N activist on March 30 climbed up an electricity poll in front of the party’s central secretariat to protest the ticket awarding process of his party.

The leaders of both the PTI and PML-N when contacted said, “More will contest as independent candidates or join PML-Q and PPP if Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif fail to address the serious problem,”

When asked they might be accommodated by their parties on other positions, they said, “A person who does politics of his constituency cannot afford to sit outside the process for five years, as he/she will survive politically only by remaining part of electoral politics.”

Meanwhile, PML-Q and PPP, the two rival forces of PML-N and PTI, are anxiously waiting for those left out by Raiwind and Zaman Park owing to deficiency of potential candidates with them.

A senior PML-Q leader told this correspondent that those left out by PML-N or PTI would not be forced to join Q-League and they would be supported as independent candidates to serve the sole purpose of defeating their arch rival, PML-N.

The PPP senior leaders, however differing from their former coalition partner, said their party’s sole purpose was to secure the seat where both PTI and PML-N were facing internal rifts instead of giving it away to a third contender.