Secret balloting on the motion of no confidence against the Senate Chairman Thursday, surely demolished the myth of “invisible majority” that the opposition had been relishing in the upper house of parliament for many months.

The PTI felt delighted about it and kept celebrating its victory until fairly late in the night. No wonder, hardly a minister was present in the National Assembly to answer questions put for the day after.

The opposition benches looked equally deserted Friday morning. Its legislators deserved a long break to lick wounds of a humiliating defeat and recover energy to put on a brave face.

Yet, Sheikh Faiz, a PML-N backbencher,   pointed out the lack of quorum. The house was adjourned to wait for the required numbers. Eventually the house was adjourned to meet again Monday evening, without dealing with a single item of the day’s agenda.

Most reporters, assigned to cover Parliament, opted to stay put in the building, though. Sneaking into ministerial chambers and rooms allotted to opposition leaders, they kept trying to figure out the fine points of a deeply manipulative game that helped to protect Sanjrani in the end. The incurable cynic in me was just not interested. Still, I kept sitting in the parliamentary cafeteria to entertain myself with intriguing gossip.

For almost a decade, I have stopped chasing hard news like a compulsive reporter. Hardly a few days after posting of the no confidence motion against the Senate Chairman, however, one could find after attentively listening to whispers prevailing in parliamentary corridors that “at least 15 senators,” most from the PML-N and some from the PPP, were willing to protect Sanjrani.

Only after extracting firm commitments from the said group of senators, the government asked the President to sign the order of summoning the Senate sitting on August 1 to vote on the motion of no confidence against Sanjrani, after delaying it on trivial grounds.

The opposition parties continued to feel too confident about their numerical edge, however. As if to pamper their self-serving delusions, Shibli Faraz, the leader of the ruling party in the Senate, gatecrashed for a meeting with Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the JUI-F, around ten days ago. Jam Kamal, the Chief Minister of Balochistan, accompanied him.

The enforced-looking visit motivated the opposition to fancy as if desperately failing in collecting the required numbers, the PTI was now looking for a ‘face saver’. Even the most experienced players of political games among the opposition parties failed to realise that the said visit was a well-designed deception.

Through a series of nonstop lunches, dinners and parliamentary party meetings they also kept feeling good by flaunting the number, 64, to declare victory before the battle.

If you ask me, the government had ensured its victory the day a group of ruling party senators and their allies went to meet the Prime Minister. Their call-on was shown on media. Imran Khan was also reported to have ensured victory to them during the said meeting.

Naively disregarding the preceding events, the opposition leaders still want us to believe as if some “last minute management” led to their stunning defeat Thursday.

The defeat remains an orphan for no one dares to take responsibility for it. The opposition in the Senate is not a cohesive entity anyway. The PML-N is the single largest party there, followed by the PPP. But there also are parties representing the nationalist and religion-driven sentiments.

To everyone’s convenience, it was taken for granted that most senators who betrayed their parties in the secure solitude of ballot-stamping booth Thursday belonged to the PML-N. Not more than two were considered suspects from the PPP. And only one senator from the JUI-F was blamed for the betrayal. The calculation apparently made sense.

Shehbaz Sharif, the PML-N President, is just not willing to accept the said calculation. In private meetings, he keeps insisting that barring the obvious suspects, not more than three, the rest of PML-N senators voted against Sanjrani due to his vigilant management.

Shehbaz Sharif’s camp completely endorses his claim. The PML-N senators also add that only after failing in winning the required numbers from their party, the ruling party was finally compelled to imagine and execute Plan-B, “in sheer desperation.”

Lest you forget, the loyalists of Shehbaz Sharif, and even an overwhelming majority of the PML-N vote bank, never trusted Asif Ali Zardari. They are yet not willing to forget and forgive that Sadiq Sanjrani had been installed in the Chairman Senate’s Office, primarily due to the game set by the former president.

Asif Ali Zardari had not been feeling good with Nawaz Sharif since that late 2014. He strongly feels that he “protected” the former prime minister while firmly standing by him when Imran Khan had reached Islamabad in that year to topple his government with 126-day long DHARNA.

After surviving the deadly game set against his government, however, Nawaz Sharif was alleged to have turned indifferent when the accountability outfits opted to make it difficult for Zardari and his close friends in Sindh.

The PPP leader was forced to leave for New York and wait for good days. During the heat of troubles, ignited for Nawaz Sharif due to Panama Papers in 2016, he decided to return home and in a way “got even” with Nawaz Sharif by putting Sanjrani to Chairman Senate’s office. In return, he got one of his loyal friends, Salim Mandviwala, placed as the Deputy Chairman.

Keeping in mind the abovementioned background, you also have to recall that Sanjrani was not alone who survived the no confidence motion put against him Thursday. The PTI secured him, no doubt, but it also failed to remove Salim Mandviwala.

If you go by the obvious logic only, Mandviwala could survive simply because the opposition decided to abstain from the secret balloting on the motion put against him. Disregarding the tactical causes of his survival, however, the Zardari-hating camp of the PML-N is too willing to believe that Mandviwala survived, due to the execution of Plan-B that the PTI had employed in the end to protect Sanjrani.

In this column of Friday morning, I had briefly mentioned suspicions, prevailing in the said camp. Now, the majority of PML-N legislators are candidly telling reporters in whispers that most senators, who betrayed the opposition Thursday, had surfaced from the PPP.

After realizing that sufficient number of senators from the PML-N were no more willing to protect Sanjrani, these legislators claim, “powerful friends and well-wishers” of the PTI approached a real estate tycoon. I don’t need to name him, for there is one and only, often given credit for delivering things “political” for the right or wrong reasons.

Most PML-N legislators and large number of reporters in Islamabad keep insisting with absolute confidence that late Wednesday night a meeting the real estate tycoon was arranged with “Sub Pai Bharee,” who is in NAB’s custody these days. The execution of Plan-B was fine-tuned during this meeting and “at least seven PPP senators” were used to protect Sanjrani through its execution.

As a retired reporter, I find many holes in this story. Yet the fact remains that almost everyone I talked to at Parliament House Friday sounded so excited to buy it.

Disregarding the merits of a widely-believed story, drumming details of the so-called Plan-B, one has to end this column by simply stating that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is bound to feel too embarrassed, if the story of Plan-B, claiming of a late night meeting between the real estate tycoon and the nabbed PPP leader, proves correct in the end.

Without yet being proven correct and credible the said story has already dampened the growing affinity between the PML-N and PPP anyway.