LAHORE - Punjab’s joint opposition is struggling to make joint moves at the Assembly forum to bring the ruling PML-N to its knees in the largest province which determines who will occupy the throne at the capital.

The challenge is big and daunting as the PML-N remains unbeatable in its stronghold for over quarter a century. In a House of 369, the joint strength of the Opposition is 48, but still it can make its voice heard if the members come prepared with their home work done.

The provincial heads of the PPP, the PTI and the PML-Q had a meeting in the provincial capital two weeks back to formulate joint strategy to confront the ruling party on issues of public importance. They identified the Orange Line Train project of Punjab government as the burning issue to mobilize public opinion against it.

The ongoing Punjab Assembly session also witnessed Opposition’s protest both inside and outside the House but its voice was not heard across Punjab. It is also going to stage a protest demonstration outside Assembly on Wednesday (today) against the Orange Train project.

“Lack of coordination and planning, difference of opinion and the half-hearted moves remain the main challenge before the Opposition”, PPP MPA Faiza Malik told The Nation.

Leader of the Opposition Mian Mehmoodur Rashid yesterday led a walkout from the Assembly on the issue of petrol prices. But members from the PPP and the PML-Q had no clue of this move as they were not taken into confidence beforehand. Though they left the House willy-nilly, but their body language spoiled their image of a joint Opposition.

Further, it has been learnt that there is disagreement between the PPP and the PTI on whether to lodge protest inside the Assembly or to boycott the Assembly proceeding.

“The PPP thinks that the opposition should raise its voice inside the House while the PTI believes that staging a walkout would be the most effective way for agitation”, Faiza Malik said.

After the PML-N, the PTI of Imran Khan has emerged another major challenger for the PPP which is fact losing ground in Punjab’s political arena. Many PPP leaders consider the PTI their political rival and hence opposed to any collaboration with this party. A latest manifestation of this rivalry was witnessed at a recent protest rally organized by the PPP in Lahore to express solidarity with the Orange Train victims. The PPP workers ‘welcomed’ Mian Mehmoodur Rashid at their show by raising a slogan: ‘Go Rashid Go”. Senior PPP leaders including Ch Aitzaz Ahsan and Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo later had to apologise to the PTI leader.

Though the PML-Q is also part of the Opposition’s alliance, it is not making its presence felt as one of the vibrant partners. It’s parliamentary leader Moonis Elahi is seldom seen in the Assembly.

Earlier in September last year, leaders of seven opposition parties in Punjab had a meeting ahead of the LG elections. They converged on the point that it would be a difficult task to defeat the PML-N in Punjab through individual efforts. It was in this background that they agreed to make a political front against the PML-N to agitate for people’s issues and to collaborate in the elections.

The meeting was held at the Model Town residence of PPP’s central Punjab President Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo and attended by Ch Muhammad Sarwar of PTI, Liaqat Baloch of JI, Nawaz Gandapur of PAT, Pir Ejaz Hashmi of JUP, Jawad-ul- Hassan Kazmi of Sunni Ittehad Council and Asad Abbas Naqvi of Wahdat-ul- Muslemeen. PPP’s southern Punjab President, Makhdum Ahmed Mehmood was also part of the negotiations.

The move was then seen by analysts a big political development in the prevailing situation. Many had anticipated that this PPP-led move may change the future political landscape in Punjab in opposition’s favor. It reflected the PPP thinking that no single party in Punjab was in a position to gain political victory over the PML-N.

On local bodies’ elections, it was then decided that the parties would make seat adjustments across Punjab where needed. For this, they had authorized their local leaders to negotiate the electoral adjustments as per local requirements.

But when it came to actualization of the agreed points in the local polls, local leaders of the opposition parties did not adhere to their leaders’ directions. This so-called political alliance failed to achieve the desired results. The PML-N proved yet again that it was un-surmountable in Punjab.