LAHORE  -  PPP candidates from central Punjab who faced defeat in the recent elections told party leadership on Monday that non-existence of party cadres at the gross-roots level was the major cause of their defeat besides the polling-day rigging. 

PPP’s central Punjab organization had convened a meeting of party ticket holders at party’s central secretariat at Lahore to know why such a large number of candidates from this region lost their seats on July25.

PPP’s central Punjab President Qamar Zaman Kaira chaired the meeting which was also attended by party’s general secretary Ch Manzoor Ahmad and over one hundred ticket holders of national and Punjab Assembly seats.

Insiders told The Nation that majority of the ticket holders complained that party’s local organizations did not cooperate with them during the electioneering and on the polling day.

“Party workers who were willing to cooperate sought money to act as polling agents on the polling day”, a candidate from Gujranwala grumbled, adding that he had no money to pay a handsome amount to the workers keen to perform this duty in his constituency. He said he was unable to place polling agents at most of the polling stations.

In what should be an alarming situation for the party leadership, another candidate told the meeting that PPP had lost the old lot of ideological workers who would volunteer to work as polling agents in the past. He further stated that he had to leave a good number of polling stations unattended due to non-availability of polling agents.  

“Over the years, majority of the PPP workers in different constituencies have joined the PTI’s ranks as he could not find polling agents for most of the polling stations”, he lamented.  

A candidate from Lahore complained that party workers had demanded sizeable amount to open party offices in his constituency. He further informed that party structure at the local level was almost non-existent and needed complete revamping.

A ticket holder from Sheikhupura said that most of the PPP’s old workers were seen campaigning either for the PTI candidates or those of the PML-N.

The defeated PPP candidates also spoke about the appalling situation their polling agents at the polling stations had to face. They said their agents were forced to leave their designated places at the polling stations after 6pm without provision of Form-45. A candidate said that his polling agents were given results on a plain paper instead of Form-45.

Later, briefing the media about the meeting, Qamar Zaman Kaira gave vent to his grouse saying that large-scale rigging was responsible for his party’s defeat in Punjab. To substantiate his point, he also cited statements by some PTI leaders complaining about the rigging in their constituencies. “All parties have similar complaints about the rigging”, he said.

Kaira believed that July25 vote was massively rigged in favor of the PTI. “But despite employing all possible tactics, they could not even manage to give a simple majority to the “laadla”, an implied reference to PTI chief Imran Khan.

He further said that results were compiled in the absence of PPP’s polling agents who were forced to leave the stations after 6 pm. Most of the polling agents were provided copies of election results on a simple paper instead of Form-45, he said.

TO a question, Kaira said that PPP would sit on the opposition benches in Punjab Assembly.