LAHORE - Everything is in order for the election to 11 Senate seats of Punjab at the Provincial Assembly here on Thursday (today).

Polling for the Senate election will be held at the Committee Room of the Punjab Assembly from 9am to 4pm. The Assembly premises have been declared polling station, while Punjab Election Commission will perform as Presiding Officer and two others members of the Commission as polling officers of the election.

Ballot papers in three different colours will be provided to the members to cast vote for the three categories through secret balloting. White ballot paper is for general seats, pink for the women and light green for technocrat/Ulema seats.

No camera, mobile phone set or any other electronic gadget would be allowed entry to the polling station.

The ruling party, PML-N, appears to be sweeping the election on all 11 seats of Punjab, however would face rival candidates of PPP on the general, women and technocrats seats of the upper house. The largest opposition party in the Punjab Assembly, PTI, with the strength of 29 MPAs, is not taking part in elections after its members had tendered resignations last September, which are yet to be accepted by the National Assembly Speaker.

Under the single transferable vote, a first preference candidate will need to get approximately 45 votes in the House of 371 members (including that of the PTI’s) while the second and third will need to get lesser votes proportionately. PML-N and the PPP are in a straight fight for seven general, two women, and two technocrat seats. For seven general seats, N-League has fielded nine candidates while each two for women and technocrat seats.

Wednesday was the last the day for withdrawing the candidature but the N-League did not recall the additional two candidates on the general seats. According to Khawaja Mahmood Ahmad, who is also a candidate of the PML-N for the general seat, the party leadership has asked for not withdrawing two additional candidatures. Among the nine candidates for the general seats, three belong to Sindh who are contesting election for the Punjab seat.

It has been learnt that a matter relating to the person belonging to a province and contesting election for the Senate from another has been seized of by the Court of law. As such, the party high command has asked all nine members to remain in field, said Khawaja Mahmood Ahmad.

The members’ strength of the PML-N in Punjab is 312; PTI 29; PPP eight; PML-Q eight; JI one; PML-Z two; PNML one; and BNAP one.

Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif is unlikely to cast vote in the election as he is on a trip abroad.

The PML-N candidates on general seats include Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qayyum, Muhammad Saud Majeed, Pervaiz Rasheed, Mushahiddullah Khan, Ch Tanveer Khan, Ghaus Muhammad Khan Niazi, Syed Nihal Hashmi, Khawaja Mahmood Ahmad and Saleem Zia. On the Women seats, the party has fielded Najma Hameed and Ayesha Raza Farooq. While on the technocrat/Ulema seat, Raja Zafarul Haq and Prof Sajid Mir are the candidates.

PPP has fielded Nadeem Afzal Chann for General; Sarwat Malik for women; and Nousher Khan Langrial for technocrat seat.

The PML-N leadership has formed divisional committees to make sure that all party members cast vote for the party candidates as well as their presence is certain. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, himself, has passed instructions to the members to ensure their presence in the assembly on the elections day, and has also called back the members who are on foreign visit.

The ruling party is facing a group of disgruntled MPAs from the South Punjab, a part of the province which has although been ignored for the award of Senate ticket. But this time among the sitting eight members, two have representation from this part of the province.

Senator Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa is one of two but he stands aloof from the party leadership on the grievance of being sidelined and ignored in the party despite sacrifices for the party at the tough moment. Sources close to Khosa claim that 82 MPAs from the South support his point of view. In this connection, PML-N leadership is keeping close eye on such members to ensure that they do not deviate at the time of election.

Meanwhile, the PPP candidates had complained to the Election Commission that their voters were being forcibly wooed by the opponents.

The PML-N candidates remained in touch with the voters till last. Some threw luncheons and dinners while others merely made telephone calls. The MPAs were quite pleased for being given honour and appeared exuberant to cast vote for the party candidates.