LAHORE - The PML-N-dominated Punjab Assembly is going to elect 12 senators Saturday with all eyes on PTI candidate Ch Muhammad Sarwar to see whether or not he will clinch the seventh general seat which may go either to him or any of the ruling party candidates, depending upon who gets the maxim number of second priority votes.

As the PTI has a total of 30 legislators in the Punjab Assembly, its candidate is short of at least 16 first priority votes. But PTI’s Dr Zarqa Taimur obtained 38 votes in the recently held by-poll in the Punjab. If the PTI manages to keep this figure intact, Ch Sarwar needs only eight first priority votes to win the seat.

Former Punjab Governor Ch Sarwar also has his sympathisers in the PML-N ranks who may even cast him their first priority votes.

On the other hand, the PML-N candidate placed on the seventh priority needs at least 18 first priority votes to get elected. In this way, the second priority votes will decide the fate of two aspirants contesting for the seventh position on the list of general seats. It is not known yet who from amongst the seven PML-N candidates on the general list is the lowest in priority. He will be vulnerable in today’s contest as the ruling party lacks the required number to get him elected on the basis of first priority votes. But he will be secure if the PML-N vote bank remains intact and all its second priority votes go in his favour.

The PML-N has 310 members in the house of 368. Actual house strength is 371, but two seats are vacant whereas one MPA’s membership is suspended. The ruling party has the required numerical strength to grab at least 11 seats – six of general category, two technocrats, two women and one minority.

An interesting contest between Ch Sarwar and any of PML-N candidates is expected on the seventh seat of the general category. A candidate on the general seat requires at least 46.01 scores to be elected as a senator while the scores touch 123 and 184 on technocrats/women and minority seats, respectively, provided all of the 368 members cast their votes.

According to an insider, the PML-N has divided its members into six groups, each comprising 47. But there is a seventh group also consisting of only 28 members. There is a possibility that the strength of PML-N’s seventh group may shrink further if some of its 310 MPAs fail to turn up for vote. In the Senate by-poll held last Thursday, PML-N’s Dr Asad Ashraf got 298 votes. Under this situation, the second priority votes will play a decisive role.

The PTI could not convince PML-Q and PPP in favour of its candidate despite repeated contacts with both the parties’ leaderships. PPP’s eight MPAs will vote for their candidate Shehzad Ali Khan on a general seat while PML-Q members are supporting Kamil Ali Agha for the same category. Jamaat-e-Islami’s MPA announced to support Kamil Ali Agha while JUI-F, Bahawalpur National Awami Party and Pakistan National Muslim League with one legislator each have yet to take a clear side in favour of any of the parties. Two MPAs of PML-Zia, an ally of PML-N, are likely to support the government side. PTI’s Ch Sarwar says five independent candidates will vote for him. He also claims support from some PML-N members.

PML-Q MPAs’ second priority votes, according to the announcement made recently by PML-Q President Ch Shujaat, will also go in Sarwar’s favour. The PTI lawmakers will give their second priority vote to PML-Q’s Kamil Ali Agha, according to the agreement.

According to the Senate election formula, an interesting situation may emerge when all votes of the candidate at the bottom position on the general seat will be transferred to the candidate close to the victory stand.

The ruling party’s Dr Asif Kirmani, Rana Mahmoodul Hassan, Zubair Gul, Shaheen Khalid Butt, Musadiq Masood Malik, Maqbool Ahmed and Haroon Khan are contesting for general seats. The victory of PML-N’s Sadia Abbasi and Nuzhat Sadiq is almost confirmed on women seats. PTI’s Andleeb Abbas is also contesting for a woman seat. PML-N’s Ch Naseer Bhutta, Hafiz Abdul Karim and Ishaq Dar are contesting for technocrat/ulema seats against PPP’s Nawazish Ali and PTI’s Malik Asif Javed. The contest on a minority seat will be held between PML-N’s Kamran Micheal and Victor Azaraya of PTI.




All eyes on one

Punjab general seat