LAHORE - Only a day after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf claimed it had managed enough numbers to form government in Punjab, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has come to challenge it.
Former law minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said on Tuesday that 14 independent members-elect had pledged them support while four others were also going to vote for the PML-N when Punjab Assembly takes it to decide the next chief minister of the province.
The PML-N Punjab MPAs-elect met yesterday at the Model Town secretariat with party President Mian Shehbaz Sharif in the chair and decided to make all out efforts to get power in Punjab.
The PML-N which secured the highest number of 129 seats in Punjab in the last election, had particularly directed its members-elect for ensuring attendance at the meeting.
However, 106 members showed up at the meeting while the rest, as the sources in the party say, failed to turn up for different reasons. They counted former ministers Khawaja Saad Rafiq, Khawaja Imran Nazir and Khawaja Salman Rafiq among the absentees in the meeting.
The Parliamentary Party meeting, also attended by the main leaders, committed to stand by the party through thick and thin and follow strictly what the party president will ask them to do.
It may be mentioned that as many as 29 members have been elected independently in Punjab and of them 18 have already joined the PTI, which is rubbing shoulder with the PML-N for the slot of chief minister of the province.
With 129 seats in Punjab, the PML-N is counting on six seats of PPP in Punjab and support of 14 independents to form government in the province.
Former law minister Rana Sanaullah has claimed that as many as 14 independents have pledged them support and four others have assured them going with the PML-N at time of voting in the Punjab Assembly.
Sana, in his media talk, however stayed short of naming the independents who had lent support to the PML-N. He said at the time of voting, the PML-N will have the requisite number of the assembly members. The words of former law minister were indicative of vote to the PML-N by those who had joined the PTI camp.
Sana said, except for a few, all the PML-N members were present in the Parliamentary Party meeting.
He said the meeting had mandated the party President Shehbaz Sharif to finalise name of the parliamentary leader of the party in consultation with the PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif. He said the meeting also carried a resolution to regret the involvement of ‘apolitical forces’ in election process.
Mushahid Hussain Syed, the PML-N Senator, was also optimistic about the party securing required number for formation of the Punjab government. He said his party had won maximum seats in the Punjab so it was their right to form the government in the province. He also accused the rival party of horse trading with the assistance of the ‘aliens.’ Mushahid also kept closed names of members-elect in support of the party.
Only a day before, PTI had claimed it had gained the required support to form its governments both at Centre and in Punjab.
According to PTI Spokesman Fawad Chaudhry, the National Assembly had around 328-330 members, out of which the PTI was currently enjoying support of 168 members, including women and minority seats.
In the Punjab Assembly, the PTI spokesman claimed that the party had 180 seats to form a government. The provincial assembly generally comprises 371 members, although this time it is expected to have 360 MPAs.
PML-N sources say the party, making efforts to touch the magic figure of 149 needed to show majority in the Punjab Assembly for CM office, was also mulling plan-B to get a commanding position in the Punjab Assembly by way of getting their candidates elected to the office of speaker and the deputy speaker. The party had fielded teams to contact political parties and the independently elected members for putting forward this option.
However, if the PML-N managed to curry favour of the independent members for the speaker and deputy speaker slots, a situation loaded with interest and suspense will crop up at the election time of the chief minister office as it will also make the PTI claim on commanding support of so many members doubtful. Some media reports also add that the PML-N intends to make efforts for speakership at the national level as well.
Amid the situation, sources say, the party leadership was also striving to keep its winners in the party rank and that they did not get allured by any attraction from the rivals for creating a separate bloc out of them.
Addressing the Parliamentary Party, Shehbaz Sharif thanked members and said their victory was in fact a show of confidence in the leadership of Nawaz Sharif and the development carried out under his stewardship. He said, “We contested election in difficult and hard situation and despite that the PML-N emerged as the largest party in the province. The object of the PML-N is not formation of the government but to serve the masses which the party will continue if again given chance in Punjab.”
Central leader of the party Hamza Shehbaz Sharif, claiming the PML-N’s right to rule after it came up as majority party in Punjab, charged the PTI with horse trading. He vowed to make all efforts for forming PML-N government in the Punjab.
Talking to media here yesterday, Hamza said the PTI leader Jahangir Tarin was busy carrying members-elect in his plane to Bani Gala where their ‘bidding’ was being carried out. “This does not suit the character of a party that has raised the slogan of new Pakistan,” Hamza said alluding to the PTI’s alleged horse trading.
“Despite the proofs of rigging, the PML-N wants continuity of the democratic process, he said, citing results of 35 constituencies where the winning margin was less than the number of rejected votes. He said in 2013, the PML-N respected the PTI mandate in KP so the PTI should do for the PML-N in Punjab. Hamza said the whole nation was witness to what the PTI was doing at present. He said the PML-N was a democratic party and would do the utmost to form government in Punjab.
Now PML-N claims majority in Punjab