LAHORE - The process of second intra-party polls of PTI has become controversial within the party before the expected announcement by its election commission in last week of April, according to Imran Khan’s lieutenants.

PTI’s first intra-party polls were held in 2013, but the party organisations were dissolved by Imran Khan in May 2015 following the recommendations of Justice (r) Wajihuddin Ahmed Commission formed to probe rigging in the internal elections.

Noorani announced the party polls would be held through electronic voting by Short Message Service (SMS). The party membership drive is also being carried out through SMS. Interviews with senior party leaders yesterday came up with the conclusion that many in Imran Khan’s party did not agree to the electronic voting process and membership by the same procedure.

“I do not believe voting through SMS (electronic balloting) will be foolproof. This process has already become source of stealing the votes during the first party polls in 2013. Justice (Retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed commission report also pointed out that fact,” said PTI senior leader Hamid Khan, while talking to The Nation.

“It is a difficult and complex process of voting. There are shortcomings in this process, however, the proposers of this process insist the same worked well for distributing Benazir Income Support Programme funds,” he added.

The party wing, dealing with the electronic voting, first told the party leaders it would be a three-layer process and now they converted into a single go balloting process. “They claim it will simplify the polling process, but in my opinion, it would make the process more vulnerable,” explained the PTI leader.

He said, “Under the party constitution, electronic voting process cannot be applied to all tiers of balloting. The electronic voting can be engaged up to the district level elections for which physical balloting process should be adopted by setting up polling stations at the party offices,” he proposed. “It will be violation of the party constitution if the elections are held only for the slot of president who is to nominate his/her team,” said Khan, while replying to a query.

Former PTI Punjab president Ijaz Chaudhry, sharing his views with the paper, said, “Electronic voting and the same procedure for membership drive are neither foolproof for the party polls nor for the membership campaign.” “The system may work successfully if the team dealing with the software ensures no intrusion. As far as the membership drive is concerned, a larger number of people can be involved for this purpose through physical membership drive,” he explained.

The PTI leader said, “Electronic voting and membership formula is a difficult proposition for the rural areas where the masses are less literate or completely illiterate.” “Direct elections must be conducted for all tiers of the party, including the basic tier of union councils, without which real democracy cannot be ensured in the party,” he held.

“It is one of the proposals of the election commission to hold the party polls for the slot of president only, which denies democratic practices,” the PTI leader said. “The party election commission can hold polls under panel or popular system. Under the first formula, certain panels face each other for various slots, while in the second one, the highest vote grabbing becomes the president followed by second, third, fourth and fifth vote grabbers as general secretary, vice president, finance secretary and joint secretary,” he proposed.

In another suggestion to the party election commission, he said the final voter list be made public after inviting objections to that. “There should be a criterion for awarding tickets to aspirants of the party elections. The ticket aspirants must be those who have served the party for at least three years,” suggested the former provincial president of PTI.