LAHORE – Many among the PTI fear pre-poll rigging in the second phase of the intra-party polls for tehsils, towns and districts to be held on February 26 under the panel system, it has learnt.

Senior party leaders, seeking anonymity, said: “Though we do not oppose the decision to hold the intra-party polls beyond the union council level on indirect basis but we strongly believe that abandoning process of direct election will create ample opportunities for the money-magnets to steal the election”.  They claimed, fearing the wrath of the close aides of party chief, they didn’t dare to speak against the indirect process of party polls and panel system beyond the union council polls.

They informed that party had decided to conduct party polls for tehsils, towns and districts applying panel system, which would further create divisions among the tsunami waves.

They said the directly elected organisations of the union councils formed the electoral college, which would elect the tehsils, towns and districts, however the money-barons mostly belonged to newcomer groups and PML-Q deserters had enough opportunities to ‘buy the loyalties of members of the electoral college’.

Senior provincial leaders of the PTI suggested party chief, Imran Khan, to reconsider the option of party polls by applying direct vote formula, which was much transparent and difficult to be influenced by an interest group at all levels.

They feared that party might fall into the hands of forces of the status quo if the remaining phases of the intra-party polls would be held under the indirect voting system and panels.

Former Punjab president Ahsan Rasheed said: “Yes the people with huge coffers among the party ranks can make bids to steal the election but I don’t see such elements can overshadow the entire process”.  “The traditional politicians among the PTI may not be able to resist the temptation of the money if the money-magnets approach them to get their vote for their panels,” he added.

When asked about the panel system, he said: “There will be one-to-one contest between the several candidates for the party polls of tehsils, towns and districts, which cannot be called panel system”.  However, PTI’s central secretary general Arif Alvi said: “I don’t see any problem conducting party polls under panels of various groups”.  However, various camps in the PTI didn’t bother to abide by the code of conduct, while Aleem Khan was the first party leader who launched Unity Group, which was followed by Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed’s Ideological Group, Saloni Bukhari and Ibrarul Haq’s Tsunami Change Group and so on.

Meanwhile, Mehmoodur Rasheed and Aleem Khan would face each other in party polls for Lahore president, as both of them submitted their nomination papers.

In other districts and cities of Punjab, the candidates filed nomination papers for the slot of president include Yasir Arfat in Layyah, Shahid Mustafa Quershi in Muzaffargarh, Col (r) Farooq Buzdar in Rajanpur, Mian Farzad Ali Goheer in Bahawalpur and Chaudhary Shoukat Daud in Rahim Yar Khan. Dozens of covering candidates, which were called focal persons in the PTI also submitted nomination papers for the slot of district presidents.