LAHORE - JAWAD R AWAN/SAJID ZIA/IFTIKHAR ALAM - Political parties in Punjab are set to choose their candidates after the Election Commission announced the first phase of the local bodies’ polls.

Election Commission Wednesday fixed October 12 for the polling of the first phase of the local bodies’ elections in Punjab and Sindh. The first phase will cover 12 districts of Punjab: Lodhran, Vehari, Okara, Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Toba Tek Singh Sargodha, Kasur, Nankana Sahib, Gujarat, Rawalpindi and Attock.

The PML-N has constituted a parliamentary board with MNA Hamza Shahbaz as chairman and party’s city president Pervez Malik as vice chairman to approve tickets for the slot of chairman and vice chairman at every tier, the latter told The Nation on Wednesday.

“Punjab general secretary, Raja Ashfaq Sarwar has been authorised to look after the overall LG polls activity,” Pervez Malik said. Party coordinators have been appointed in each district to look after the LG related matters, he added.

In the southern Punjab, where floods are hampering election activity in some districts, the party office bearers have been directed to complete lists of candidates for their presentation before the legislators’ committees that would select the final candidates, Pervez said.

He ruled out electoral alliance with other parties. However, local level seat adjustments may take place through the district bodies of the party for which consent from the central leadership will be necessary.

PTI Punjab organizer Chaudhary Sarwar said, “It is difficult to select six to seven thousand candidates in the short time given by the Election Commission for the first phase of local polls. But we will speed up candidates’ selection.” A meeting of Local Government Committee of the party would be summoned for tomorrow (Friday) to ponder on ways to accelerate this process.

“Party’s Local Government Boards in the districts will select the candidates for local elections. While Appellate Authority Councils comprising the limits of a provincial constituency will deal with the complaints against the party tickets,” he said. The decision of the Appellate Councils will be final in case the Local Boards fail to develop consensus for a ticket award, Sarwar said.

Ruling out the possibility of electoral alliance with likeminded parties, he said PTI would form coalition with likeminded parties for the formation of district councils where the party lacks in strength.

PML-Q Punjab General Secretary Chaudhry Zaheerud Din said their district organisations have been authorised to select the party candidates for the local polls, and they can also make seat adjustments with all the likeminded parties as per their local political needs. He claimed PML-Q would make efforts to field candidates from all the districts of the province.

The PPP-P has formed committees at district and tehsil level to finalise candidates for the forthcoming local bodies’ polls. Comprising of party office bearers and ticket holders, the committees would make selection of candidates for the slots of councillors to be elected for the union councils.

The local PPP leaders have also been authorised to make seat adjustments with all parties except the ruling PML-N.

PPP’s central Punjab president Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo held a series of meetings with divisional and district presidents last month to apprise them of the party policy on local polls. Party’s southern Punjab president, Makhdoom Ahmad Mehmood has also issued similar instructions to the local leaders.

JUP central president Pir Ijaz Hashmi told The Nation that his party was working to forge an electoral alliance of the religio-political parties for the polls. “I am contacting the top leaders of all the religio-political parties for this purpose. JUI-F chief Fazalur Rehman and JI secretary general Liaqat Baloch have expressed the wish for an electoral alliance of religio-political parties.”

JI Punjab president Dr Waseem Akhtar said his party has authorised the district organisations of the party to select suitable candidates in minimum possible time. The district organisations will also decide the seat adjustments with likeminded political forces where needed.

PAT spokesman Noor Ullah said district committees of the party would propose the candidates for the local polls and the central core committee would finalise the contenders. The party would make seat adjustments with all the political parties where required, except the PML-N. He claimed PAT and PTI would make seat adjustments in some union councils of Faisalabad district.