LAHORE - The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has begun to focus on second option than going full fledged for the formation of government in Punjab.
The party has not lost all hope yet it feels that allotting all the energies to making of its own government could ultimately devoid it of the lesser achievable fruits too, in the present circumstances which seems going in PTI’s favour.
Party sources say that for the time being the PML-N is in a better position to play the role of a robust opposition in Punjab, and it will not only consolidate its ranks but also procure it with more political space in the time to come.
They say that having governed the province for over 10 years recently in two successes governments and carrying an overall 30 years experience of ruling Punjab, the PML-N is in a good stead to challenge and grill the PTI government on its policies and decisions.
Moreover, the PML-N performance in Punjab under the leadership of Shehbaz Sharif will also continue to shine and give it an upper hand to challenge the PTI abilities for proving better.
In the last parliamentary party meeting of the PML-N, discussion was held on formation of government in Punjab more with a view to get it as a right after the party has bagged maximum number of seats than convincing members on this object on the strength of requisite number of seats in hand.
The absence of about 20 members-elect in the meeting, despite strict instructions to show up as a mark of party’s internal strength and intactness, tells a lot about PML-N’s struggle to survive the storm brought in by the PTI’s success.
The under-strength of the party to form government in Punjab lurks in the back of the minds of the members-elect. The absence of so many members from the symbolically important meeting also shows defeatism, although leaders like Rana Sanaullah Khan are making tall claims of giving a surprise when the house elects speaker and deputy speaker of the provincial assembly.
In the meeting, PML-N President Mian Shehbaz Sharif greeted the members on the success and eulogised the party’s services in Punjab. He however did not infuse much spirit in the members about formation of their government in this province.
On the contrary, the meeting laid stress on appointing Hamza Shehbaz Sharif Leader of the Opposition in Punjab Assembly. Previously, he was being named for the CM slot in the province.
The meeting authorised the party president to take any decision about future slots in Punjab Assembly after consulting Party Quaid Nawaz Sharif, who is his elder brother and informal top leader of the party.
In this background, Nawaz League appears going half heartedly for the CM slot by leaving it to chance and bracing fully to play a big and forceful role on the opposition benches in Punjab.
The PTI, which emerged second-highest winner in the Punjab, has mustered the required support for formation of government in the province. As many as 18 of the total 29 independently elected MPAs have declared joining the PTI, while the party claims that another five of them will support it at the time of voting.
One independent-elect, Sajid Bhatti, has joined the PML-Q which has already put all its eight members in the PTI’s basket.
Interestingly, about half of these independents are those who were denied ticket by the PTI in the election.
The PML-N also claimed support of several independents but did not disclose the names. It claims that they would turn the table on the PTI by voting for the PML-N. The PML-N, in the observers’ view, is groping in the dark and doesn’t hold anything concrete in the hand.
Given this scenario, the opposition slot best suits the PML-N and an active role in that capacity also carries conviction about giving a tough time to the PTI which is quite novice about governance in Punjab.
The PML-N position and role would become even more vital and active at the national level if it gets the slot of the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly - for which the PPP is also vying.
While playing the opposition role actively and effectively, the PML-N may also eye on by-elections in Punjab where a better performance of the party can raise its hopes, say the observers.