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What’s PTI ‘plan C’ and how would it benefit party and its candidates?

ISLAMABAD:  The major players of PTI are gearing up to engage in the political match set for Feb 8. However, the harsh truth is that they lack the ‘bat’ needed to play and win the match.

In essence, they find themselves sidelined even before the start of the match, and the PTI’s presence in the political arena appears to be merely a showpiece.

Disappointed with the Supreme Court’s ruling, PTI’s demand for a level playing field has gone in vain. The party is left bare-handed, with no field and level playing field to contest the match.

PTI faces numerous legal battles, starting with the rejection of nomination papers of its candidates by returning officers, followed by appeals against these rejections in appellate tribunals and high courts.

The party’s last hope, the electoral symbol ‘bat,’ has also been lost, with PTI withdrawing the petition filed against the election commission. After the rejection to acquire the ‘bat’ symbol, PTI announced Plan B to secure the electoral symbol of the ‘batsman.’ However, this plan also failed within a few hours.

The Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to prevent the party from getting tickets on the ‘batsman’ symbol might benefit PTI in the coming days. Debates on social media about the election symbols allotted to PTI candidates are ongoing, with PTI’s candidates receiving symbols reserved for independent candidates across the country.

While delivering the symbol to the candidate poses a major challenge, the constitutional and legal consequences of contesting elections without a symbol are problematic.

PTI’s political rivals believe that their path has been cleared by the withdrawal of the electoral symbol, as neither the electables nor the party symbol exist anymore. Speculations suggest that, in the current situation, it will not be easy for PTI to place a polling agent at every polling station, ensuring fair and free polling.

However, PTI has now unveiled Plan C to the rescue. What is PTI’s possible Plan C, and what impact will it have on the upcoming political scenario?

First, it is necessary to assess how significant the loss is for PTI after losing the election symbol ‘bat.’ A survey conducted by Dunya News in different constituencies revealed that the withdrawal of the election symbol has had negative effects on PTI. In some constituencies of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, those who want to vote for PTI are unaware of PTI’s candidates and their new electoral symbol.

PTI claims that, with three weeks left until the elections, it has devised a procedure to inform voters about the new electoral symbol of each constituency and the new candidate through traditional and non-traditional methods.

If PTI succeeds in informing its voters of the relevant electoral symbol, the next challenge will be even greater, particularly in Punjab, where deploying polling agents capable of facing resistance at polling stations is crucial.

According to Plan C, PTI’s candidates contesting elections as independent candidates will announce their intention to join PTI if successful. Although the electoral symbol of the ‘bat’ has been taken away from PTI, it has not been banned from contesting polls. According to ECP records, PTI exists as a listed party with no legal head, as its intra-party elections have been annulled.

Legal experts suggest that these independent candidates cannot be prevented from joining the political party based on the records of ECP-listed parties. According to election rules, the successful candidate is given three days to join a political party after the announcement of results.

The ECP’s decision to remove the election symbol of the ‘batsman’ might be useful for PTI, as the party’s candidates’ nomination papers have already associated them with PTI.

Under Plan C, PTI can demand a fair share in the reserved seats for women and minorities according to the party’s position in case of entry into the Parliament. Although PTI has provided priority lists for reserved seats to the ECP, there is also a provision in the law that names for reserved seats can be provided even after the elections.

Plan C is challenging to impose, but it is not impossible. Despite facing unavoidable challenges due to its wrong political decisions and blunders, PTI continues to resist instead of running away from the game.

This resilience is why PTI remains in the political scene despite losing the election symbol. The political situation after the elections doesn’t seem favorable, with potential legal and political chaos, leading political parties to approach higher courts to settle disputes.