LAHORE - Irrespective of results of Thursday’s Senate elections, the PTI would be virtually in a state of dilemma at the time of election of the Senate chairman due on March 12.

The respective strengths of the main political parties, the PPP, the PML-N and their allies in the upper house have placed Imran’s party in an awkward situation. It finds itself between the devil and the deep blue sea as whatever decision it takes about its participation or otherwise in the Senate chairman election is sure to benefit either the PPP or the PML-N candidates. The core committee of the PTI is meeting tomorrow (Friday) to come out of this imbroglio.

The PTI would have five different options before it when the Senate meets on March 12 to elect its new chairman and deputy chairman. The irony is that neither of them suits it politically.

These options are: It can support a PML-N candidate; it can decide to back a PPP candidate; it can field its own candidate; it can support a third candidate, if any, from any other party; it can stay away from the election process for the Senate chairman and the deputy chairman.

Coming to the first two options, the PTI is less likely to lend its support to the PPP or the PML-N, given its consistent stance that both are partners in corruption. It would have to choose the lesser evil, which is again a very hard choice to make.

The last three options are equally undesirable, but they are surely going to benefit the PPP in a big way. In case of two candidates in the run, the number required for victory is 53 which forms simple majority out of total Senate strength of 104. In case of a third  candidate that may be from the PTI or any other party, the number required for simple majority would further come down depending on the number of votes the third candidate obtains. It would have the same effect on the number making a simple majority if the PTI senators stay away from the process of the Senate chairman election. The simple majority would then be determined out of 99 or 98.

The PPP candidate would be in an advantageous position if any of the last three options are exercised. How? Look at the number the PPP and its allies have even before the election. The PPP still retains 19 Senate seats and is most likely to add another seven to its existing tally from Sindh as a result of Thursday’s election. This would take its tally to 26. If computed, the total existing strength of its allies, the MQM, PML-Q, ANP, JUI-F and BNP-Awami comes to 19. The MQM and JUI-F are likely to have four senators each after the elections, the former from Sindh and the latter from KP and Balochistan assemblies.

Of these, the PML-Q, ANP and BNP-Awami don’t have enough number to elect even a single senator from any province.

In this way, the total anticipated strength of the PPP and its allies would reach the figure of 53 which is the magic number to have a Senate chairman and deputy chairman elected in the upper house. In this background, if the PTI, which is poised to win five to six Senate seats, abstains from the Senate chairman election or fields its own or votes for a third candidate, the magic number would further come down. The resultant situation would be comparatively more beneficial for the PPP candidate who would already be having some edge over his rival from the PML-N.

The PML-N, on the other hand, has lost support of two of its main allies. JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman whose party would be having around seven senators after the elections has openly sided with Asif Ali Zardari. This is despite the fact that Maulana is part of the federal government with two ministers in the cabinet. Nawaz Sharif has also lost the support of two senators of BNP-Awami by awarding ticket to one of its sitting senators, Kalsoom Perveen.

The PML-N which has only eight senators at present is likely to have 18 more after the polls. It would also have the support of its allies in Balochistan, Fata and the independents. The PML-F with one member in the upper house is also likely to vote for its candidate. But still it lacks a few more to secure victory of its chairman. Though a neck-and-neck contest is likely, the PPP is better placed to win the top Senate slot.