ISLAMABAD - For the last three days, Zardari House in Islamabad has been bubbling up with political activities as former President and PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari is said to be making his last-ditch effort to regain the slot of Chairman Senate by jacking up the number of his party’s senators to 29 in the upper house.

With Senate election due on March 5, the display of realpolitik inside Zardari House in the capital’s posh F-8 sector seems at its peak where things are being decided in advance ahead of the polls, as PPP is pondering over who would be the seventh chairman Senate.

“May be Nadeem Afzal Chan who is contesting from Punjab, but will he win the seat keeping in view the nominal number of PPP in Punjab? What about Rehman Malik who will be contesting from Sindh? Will he be acceptable to other political parties?” these are the questions and suggestions being floated in Zardari House.

But how will Nadeem Afzal Chan emerge a winning candidate in Punjab Assembly where his party has mere eight MPAs? Even if PML-Q has nodded to shower its eight votes on Chan, still there is no possibility that he would he win under the formula according to which 47 votes are required for electing a senator on general seat in Punjab as PTI would not take part in the exercise.

 “You will see how Nadeem Afzal Chan wins seat from Punjab,” a former PPP lawmaker sounded so confident when asked about who will vote Chan.

This is the reason, the source added, why PML-N and PTI are crying for open balloting as they don’t trust their own lawmakers.

Interestingly, since Zardari converged on Islamabad, both PML-N and PPP have served each of their MPAs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with show cause notices for hinting on suspicious of voting candidates other than their own parties.

Well-informed sources in PPP told The Nation that the first priority of PPP, that already has 19 senators in the house, is to ensure 29-member strength in the 104-member house in order to emerge as single largest political party in Senate in order to regain the slot of chairman.

At present PPP has succeeded in getting its two candidates elected from Sindh unopposed (Farooq H Naek and Sassi Palijo), thus raising PPP strength to 21 while under a consensus with MQM, PPP eyes four more seats in the province that will jack up its strength to 25.

Sources in PPP said that although their party has no representation in Balochistan, majority of the seven independent candidates would announce joining PPP once the election is over and once they win the seats.

“We hope two independent candidates would hopefully win from Balochistan. In this case we will have 27 members in Senate. Also from KP, Noor Alam will emerge successful and then we have Fata MPs who would lend support to nobody but PPP,” a senior PPP leader who was present in Zardari House told this reporter on Monday.

But if PPP fails to emerge as single majority party in the upper house, it has a Plan-B to conquer the seat of Chairman Senate for which Zardari has already gained support of PML-Q, Awami National Party (ANP) and even the PML-N’s ally JUI-F by supporting PPP candidate in election of Chairman Senate.

The ruling PML-N has lost hopes of becoming single majority party in Senate as it does not expect a single candidate from KP and Sindh. The major addition it will make to its eight-member strength in Senate would come from Punjab but it is under immense confusion fearing its party MPAs may switch loyalties due to the secret ballot system.

The only thing worrying PML-N in Punjab is that three candidates of PPP -Nadeem Afzal Chan, Malik Nosher Khan and Sarwat Malik - are the only rivals candidates in province who would need votes of nobody but of PML-N.

But even if PML-N sweeps Punjab and gets 11 senators, its strength would reach 21 including two seats from federal capital. “We expect maximum two seats from Balochistan and it means we will have total 23-member strength in Senate. I don’t think Fata Senators would cooperate with us. They are annoyed with the government and would definitely join PPP,” a PML-N lawmaker asserted.

As prime minister and deputy speaker belong to Punjab, PPP thinks that there must be somebody from provinces or areas who have never been chairman Senate. “It is quite premature to mention the exact name of chairman Senate, but it is sure that PPP will emerge majority party in the upper house,” a PPP senator said when asked about Senator Taj Haider and Senator Raza Rabbani whose names were also considered in Zardari House for the slot of chairman Senate.