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Celebrations amid rigging allegations

LAHORE: The rigging allegations on one hand and the celebrations on the other were the common scenes witnessed across the city on late Wednesday night.

Candidates, workers and supporters of PML-N were alleging that their polling agents were kicked out of the polling stations during the counting process. They said the majority of them deputed at polling stations across the city were not allowed to enter into the counting process and kept out of the polling stations despite a hue and cry. They also alleged that Form 45 was not being given to the polling agents of PML-N.

On the other hand, the workers and supporters of PTI were seen celebrating their win. One could witness groups of youth riding motorcycles, cars, jeeps and other vehicles celebrating on the roads by raising slogans like “Aaie Aaie PTI, Chahai Chahai PTI”, “Wazir-e-Azam Imran Khan” and “Bun Giya Naya Pakistan”. Fireworks were also used at several points including at Liberty Chowk, Wapda Town, Johar Town, Islampura, Shadman, Walton Road Cantonment, Taj Bagh, Misri Shah, Ravi Road, Gulshan-e-Ravi, Sabzazar, Wahdat Road and Faisal Town.

Citizens across the city also complaint that polling was started a little late as at some places the election staff reached late at polling stations or they were seen busy in setting up their tables, documents and booths. However, the overall polling process remained peaceful and no big untoward incident was reported in the city. Security forces also performed their duties well.

Bilal Yasin, a PML-N candidate, alleged that polling staff was untrained due to which delay happened in polling process. Many other PML-N candidates as well those of PTI and other parties also levelled the same allegations.

On the other hand, the participation of general public in the general elections 2018 was historic as despite severe humidity and hot weather, long queues were witnessed outside polling stations. These queues also included a large number of women, especially youth, who came to cast vote on their own will.

The turnout of the voters in the general elections 2018 had been reasonably much higher than the previous electoral exercise back in 2013.The voters, predominantly the senior citizens, converged to their designated polling stations as early as 7:45 am in various localities of the city. However, the polling started with a delay in many areas, due to the slackness of the polling staff, a choice of venues of the polling stations which proved to be quite congested for the huge number of voters.

In such polling stations, the intensely humid weather turned out to be a nightmare for the voters and the polling & security personnel as well.

One of the constituencies, NA-135 covered densely-populated areas of Hanjerwal, Ali Razabad, Johar Town, Canal view Society, Alfalah Society, Tech Society, Nespak Society, Wapda Town, Nasirabad, Mansoora, Judicial Colony, Sadhoki, Valencia and some areas of the Model Town Tehsil. The polling process gained momentum in the midday when the voters, in the hope of avoiding rush at the polling station started converging at the polling areas vote. The cloudy weather and a scattered spell of rain in many areas also contributed to encourage the voters to come out of their homes in a less humid and pleasant atmosphere.

The general atmosphere of all the areas in the city remained of a colourful with the people thronging the polling stations and the roads and streets near and around the polling stations. The supporters of all the parties, contesting parties kept marching on the city roads chanting slogans and waving party flags all day long.

Despite adverse weather most of the day, the jubilant voters thronged polling stations in NA 131 on polling day in peaceful manner.

A large number of people managed to poll their vote before midday in extremely muggy weather, especially in the thickly-populated localities in Cantt area. Men, women, old and young all are seen in queues in the polling stations waiting for their turn.

There were festive look in localities like Ali Park, Nadirabad, Nishat Park, RA Bazaar and rush of people were seen at polling camps of two main rival political parties – PML-N and PTI.

Surprisingly, a consistent flow of people, although in short numbers, was witnessed at polling camps of PPP. These jiyalas zealously cast their vote in favour of their relatively unknown candidate at national assembly seat. More importantly, there was less visibility of far-right supporters in this belt.

This trend was also translated into elections results this scribe combined later in the evening after counting process. In some polling stations, the PPP was comfortably at third position after PML-N and PTI. At a few polling stations, especially in Nishat Colony, the PPP vote was very close to the PTI candidate.

The polling staff was seen complaining about shortage of various things necessary for conducting polling. Most important among these missing items were permanent ink. Two presiding officers deputed at Nadirabad were wary of arrangements for carrying out voting.

“We have to buy markers from market for making marking on thumb of the voter. This is not a permanent ink and could create problem as far as conducting fair elections are concerned,” one of them said.

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