LAHORE - The PTI has decided to amplify the support to independent candidates in the second phase of local bodies’ polls to add more eggs to party’s victory basket, inside sources told The Nation yesterday.

The decision was taken in a high-level party meeting held at Bani Gala residence of Imran Khan few days back to review party performance in the first round of local government (LG) elections, said the party sources.

“The consultative meeting with Mr Khan in the chair found PTI-backed independent candidates added a good number to the party’s strength in the first round of polls. In the light the performance of party ticket holders and independent candidates, the leadership has decided to increase the support to independent candidates apart from the ticket holders,” they added.

According to them the district leaderships, where the second phase of LG elections are to be held, have been directed to back more independents candidates to add as much as share to PTI pool in the second round apart from ticket holders.

“An inquiry has also been launched to look into the poor performance of the party in the first phase, determine the factors behind it and take to task the responsible. Lethargic leaders will be replaced with active ones,” said party sources. No party leader should be spared in terms of performance and discipline, the high command directed the participants of the meeting to convey this to the party’s tiers concerned, they added.

“We have gained 17 percent of seats in the first phase of local bodies’ polls through backing the independent candidates. In the second round the party will again adopt this policy, but the party draws real strength from its ticket holders,” said PTI Punjab organiser Chaudhry Sarwar while responding to the queries of this paper on the matter.

“Two types of independent candidates added to the score of the party during the first phase. The first category comprised the local constituencies where the party left open the seats because of more than one potential candidate. The party left open its support and the local party leadership had told the independents the winner would join the party. In the second case, some potential candidates, promising to formally join the party, asked only for party support without ticket, suiting their local groupings,” he explained.

The independent union council chairmen belonging to the two categories from Faisalabad, Nankana Sahib, Vehari and Kasur have already joined the PTI while more are scheduled to join in next few days, he said. More than 70 independent chairmen have joined the party so far, he added.

Admitting poor performance of the party in Lahore, PTI leader claimed they almost achieved the set targets in other 11 districts. The inquiry would be made into party’s shortcomings in the provincial capital and the responsible would be asked to explain their position.

About Imran Khan’s leading the second round campaign, Sarwar said, “It is the job of the local leaderships. I am making tours of the important areas for this purpose to monitor the preparations and boost the morale of the local leaderships.”