ISLAMABAD - Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan has virtually turned down a proposal to hold intra-party polls at Union Council level throughout the country after succumbing to the pressure from the status quo elements within the party.

The claims of Imran Khan that PTI was going to be the first political party to have an elected hierarchy at the grass roots level is now fading away as the party is preparing to hold intra-party polls for the slot of President with a four-member Council only at tehsil and district level only, background interviews with some PTI leaders revealed.

Under a new proposed formula conveyed to the PTI's Election Commission, the intra-party polls would only be held for the slot of President alongwith his/her four-member Council at tehsil, district, regional, provincial and central level.

PTI's Election Commission is going to announce the schedule of the intra-party polls in the next coming days, as the membership drive of the party would end on March 31st.

However, the Commission is awaiting the final decision of Imran Khan on the formula of the election as he would have a final say in this connection.

"It has almost been settled that elections for the Presidential slot alongwith four member council would be held and only announcement has yet to be made," a senior PTI leader confirmed to The Nation.

The new formula states that every PTI member would cast two votes, one for President and other for Council member and the President would elect senior Vice President, Vice President, General Secretary and Joint Secretary at his own will among the four elected members of the Council.

There was complete division with the PTI ranks over the mode of intra-party polls as a old guards within the party was the proponent of holding polls at the Union Council (UC) level while some influential party leaders close to the Chairman were opposing this proposal.

The influential group wanted only the election of President at district level with the suggestion that President should elect his/her own Cabinet.

They were opposing the election at grass roots level for fear of defeat of their candidates and losing their grip over the party matters, a senior party leader viewed on the condition of anonymity.

The party's Election Commission also wanted to hold polls at Union Council level and had been stressing for this.

In order to resolve this matter, PTI chief Imran Khan formed a four-member Committee including former Governor Punjab Ch Muhammad Sarwar, renowned lawyer Hamid Khan, Asad Umar and Ghulam Sarwar Khan.

The Committee was tasked to have consultations with the Election Commission and sort out the matter.

The four-member Committee held a series of meetings with the Chief Election Commissioner Tasneem Ahmed Noorani and his team.

"We have received the recommendation of the four member Committee and the proposal of holding intra-party polls at UC level has been rejected," an official of PTI's Election Commission said and added: "We are waiting final decision from Imran Khan."

However, he said that the possibility of elections at UC level had been ruled out.

The official said that this was the view of the Commission that the election should be held at grass roots level. "We are determined to do so in the next phase."

He said that the Commission would hold intra-part polls in two districts as a pilot project just to see the loopholes, if any, in its system devised for the conduct of elections.

Then election would be held in all three provinces except Balochistan and later on in FATA, AJK and Gilgit Baltistan. He, however, said that the Commission would not accept the proposal of holding election for the slot of President sans four-member Council. At the same time before the announcement of schedule, two strong groups within PTI with the name of Ideology Group and Unity Group have emerged who have stepped up their efforts to win party seats. The Unity Group included Jehangir Khan Tareen, Shoaib Siddiqui, Aleem Khan and Umar Dar from Punjab, Azam Khan Swati and Khalid Masood from KP and Nadir Leghari from Sindh had nominated Chaudhry Sarwar for Punjab Presidential slot.

Meanwhile, Ideology Group headed by Saifullah Niazi from Islamabad, Hamid Khan and Ijaz Chaudhry from Punjab, Asad Qaiser, Shah Farman and Shaukat Yousafzai from Khyber Pakhtunkhaw and Dr Arif Alvi, Ali Zaidi and Imran Ismail from Sindh have nominated Shafqat Mahmood for the Punjab Presidential slot.

The Election Commission in a statement issued on Monday also showed its reservations for the groupings within the party and asked the candidates to restrain themselves to their campaign individually.