Poor strategy on election day led to PTI’s defeat in NA-154: experts


LAHORE: The poor planning, strategy, lack of coordination and consultation on the election day led to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) defeat in the NA-154 Lodhran by-polls.

According to experts, the PTI local leadership including former secretary general Jehangir Tareen being sure of their victory remained tranquil on Monday.

Relaxed Jehangir was seen enjoying a cup of tea at a polling camp set up by the opponent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Seeing the relaxed body language of the local leader, others too stayed calm and did not woo voters at the polling booths. A PTI leader in Lodhran speaking to Pakistan Today on the condition of anonymity said the PTI was sure of its victory since Jehangir Tareen was a former MNA of the area.

“Jehangir and all other top PTI leaders did not bother to call party workers to mobilise the masses for polling stations. They failed to woo the PTI workers and supporters. The polling day is considered crucial in every election, but the PTI leadership was perhaps ignorant about this phenomenon,” he said.

However, Muhammad Aslam, a farmer and resident of the Makhdoom Aali area of Lodhran had different views.

“Farmers in general and sugarcane growers, in particular, took their revenge from Jehangir Tareen by not casting their votes in favour of his son.  Jehangir is a sugar mill owner but has done nothing to help those facing the persisting crisis. The cane farmers are a pillar to the post, but no one including Jehangir is ready to address their grievances,” said Aslam.

PTI central Punjab President Aleem Khan said the defeat in NA-154 Lodhran was a partial result and was not permanent.

“Defeat or victory in any constituency is not a permanent result. We will analyse the results of NA-154 with a cool mind and heart, and will contest next elections with new courage and a better strategy,” he said.

He asked the party workers to not lose their heart and said that Kaptaan’s (Imran Khan) followers never accept defeat. “Khan and his followers always come with renewed courage and energy in the next match,” said Aleem.

However, he said, “PTI candidate Ali Khan Tareen did not only contest the election against a PML-N candidate, but also against the state machinery and the Punjab government.”

It is worth mentioning that NA-154 of Lodhran was among four constituencies for which PTI chief Imran Khan had long struggled to get the results of the 2013 general elections checked on allegations of rigging. Jehangir Tareen had defeated Siddique Baloch in the previous by-elections.

Political analysts Salman Abid blamed dynastic politics, the politics of money and incompetent advisers of Imran Khan for the defeat in NA-154. He said, “This policy of Imran Khan is against his politics of ‘change’. The PML-N proved that it is a powerful party for electoral politics.”

The NA-154 seat had fallen vacant after the then PTI Secretary General Jahangir Tareen was disqualified by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in December 2017. The disqualified leader had fielded his son Ali Khan Tareen in his place.

Young Tareen on Monday secured 91,230 votes against the victorious PML-N candidate Syed Iqbal Shah who obtained 116,590 votes. There were 431,002 registered voters in the constituency.