According to results received from 40 percent polling stations so far, PML-N’s Pir Iqbal Shah has bagged 47, 273 votes, extending his overall lead by more than 15, 000 votes.
PTI candidate Ali Khan Tareen, who was being tipped to win the close contest, is trailing behind with 32, 964 votes. Tehrik-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah is third in the race with 4, 153 votes while PPP candidate Ali Mirza has secured 1, 456 votes.
TV footage showed PML-N workers celebrating their party’s likely victory against the formidable PTI. If PML-N manages to pulls off a victory, this can be described as a major upset given all the pundits were predicting a PTI’s win.
According to ECP officials, 45 percent registered voters exercised their right to vote in the National Assembly’s constituency.
Abrar Ahmed Jatoi, district election commissioner, said that election was held in a peaceful and transparent manner. “Not a single complaint of rigging was received from anywhere in the constituency due to the presence of troops at polling stations,” he said.
Mr Jatoi said that all departments worked together to ensure election was conducted in a transparent manner.
The PPP candidate, on the other hand, accused his rival parties of rigging.
17:00: Vote count begins
All eyes are on Lodhran as PTI and PML-N will lock horns in the battle for NA-154. Polling for the election commenced at 08:00 am and will conclude at 05:00 pm.
A total of 10 candidates are contesting the by-election representing the PTI, PPP and PML-N.
Election supplies were handed out under the supervision of Pakistan Army earlier during the day and all preparations were completed.
As many as 431,000 registered voters in the constituency will exercise their right to use the ballot box and elect their representative. The total number of registered male voters in the constituency are 236,000 while female voters amount to 194,000.
As many as 338 polling stations and 1043 polling booths have been set up in the constituency for the important by-election.
Pakistan Army soldiers are stationed at the polling stations to ensure foolproof security.
Jahangir Tareen’s disqualification
The seat fell vacant after PTI’s Jahangir Khan Tareen was disqualified by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on grounds of not being honest for indulging in insider trade.
Following his disqualification, PTI took the decision to nominate Ali Khan Tareen as the party’s candidate for the NA-154 constituency.
The move turned out to be a controversial one as the party’s leadership came under fire for deviating from its rigid stance against dynastic politics.
However, PTI chief Imran Khan had spoken highly of Ali Tareen and said that the Tareens were a brand in Lodhran hence Jahangir’s son was appointed on merit.
“It is not dynastic politics–it is the politics of a constituency and whoever was the best candidate was awarded the ticket,” he had said.