ISLAMABAD - The opposition was naturally overjoyed after defeating the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in the Senate Chairman’s election on Monday but Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s son Abdullah Abbasi stole the show – by knocking out a Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf lawmaker.

Amid pro-Pakistan People’s Party, the PML-N and the PTI slogans, suddenly all eyes turned to the visitors’ gallery where a young man – Abdullah Abbasi – had overpowered a lawmaker and was trying to throw him out. Minutes earlier, Hamidul Haq was raising slogans in favour of Imran Khan.

If it were not for the people who rushed to separate them, the younger Abbasi would have won the ‘royal rumble’ against Hamidul Haq. The PTI lawmaker left a bite mark on Abbasi’s hand which will surely take time to heal.

While Abbasi and Haq fought for supremacy, the chair announced that opposition-backed Sadiq Sanjrani had won with 57 votes against PML-N’s Raja Zafarul Haq who secured 46 votes.

Sardar Yaqub Nasir, who was presiding over the session, tried to calm down the sloganeers and the fighters but to no avail. When Sadiq Sanjrani stepped up to take over as the Senate Chairman, the fight was still going on and the PPP, the PTI and the PML-N activists were testing their vocal cords.

The PPP activists were optimistic that this win would take them to eventual victory in this year’s general election. One had to admit, the PPP men won the show. The PML-N workers came second and the PTI lovers were at a distant third.

The sloganeering started even before the chair announced the results. The senators, the journalists and the guests were all counting the votes loudly as the officials put them in the rival candidates’ baskets.

The moment, Sadiq Sanjrani crossed the magic figure of 53 in the 104-member House, the PPP jiyalas (diehard workers) went berserk. “Ik (Asif Ali) Zardari sabb pai barri. Agli barri phir Zardari (One Zardari is enough for all.  The next government term is again for Zardari),” they chanted. Others expressed support for Bilawal Bhutto Zardari encouraging him to move on.

The PML-N supporters came out to compete. “Miyan teray jan-nisar. Baishoomar, baishoomar (Nawaz Sharif your loyalists are unlimited, unlimited),” they shouted. The PTI workers chanted slogans in favour of Imran Khan but could not match the experience of the PPP and the PML-N.

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam -Fazal kept the PML-N guessing as their lawmakers delayed entry into the business hall. Talha Mehmood was the first to come but his other colleagues were nowhere to be seen. There were whispers that the JUI-F had decided to abstain. However, Abdul Ghafoor Haidri and Maulana Attaur Rehman stepped in before the PML-N lost the hope. For most of the time, the PML-N ministers including Khawaja Saad Rafiq, Maryam Aurangzeb, Talal Chaudhry and Mushahidullah Khan were seen holding corner meetings as they win support for their candidates.

The treasury and the opposition benches thumped desks when Raja Zafrul Haq and Mian Raza Rabbani stood up to vote.

PPP’s Krishna Kumari Kohli attended the session in a traditional costume, attracting the attention of the lawmakers and the people present in the galleries.

Amid tension, there were a few moments when the House burst into laughter. Both times, the PPP lawmakers were instrumental. First Senator Rehman Malik took the ballot paper and was rushing out when he was told that he only had to stamp his vote inside the hall at a designated corner. The senators and the guests laughed and thumped desks as Malik returned to the ‘ring’.

Later, Senator Sherry Rehman forgot to take the ballot paper with her. This also brought a smile on the faces of the tense lawmakers who were anticipating a tough contest.

PPP’s candidate for the Deputy Chairman’s slot Saleem Mandviwalla could not receive as much votes as Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani. Fifty-four members voted for him. Another 44 stamped vote for PML-N candidate Usman Khan Kakar. Soon after taking the oath, Mandviwalla raised the ‘jeay Bhutto (long live Bhutto)’ slogan.

Much to the surprise of many lawmakers, Raza Rabbani thanked Bilawal and Zardari in his speech. While Zardari had refused to nominate Rabbani for the top Senate slot, Bilawal has promised him a ‘new assignment.’

Close by, the National Assembly session was adjourned due to the lack of quorum. The treasury members in the ‘house of commons’ were least interested in attending the proceedings after the shock defeat in the Senate. State Minister for Information Maryam Aurangzeb was seen crying as she interacted with the journalists