KARACHI - Agha Siraj Durrani was re-elected Wednesday as the Sindh Assembly speaker after bagging 96 votes from the house as compared to the 59 votes bagged by his competitor Javed Hanif, the joint candidate of opposition parties.

PPP candidate for deputy speaker, Rehana Leghari, also successfully clinched the post of deputy speaker after securing 98 votes as compared to 59 votes to Rabia Azfar Nizami who was a joint candidate of opposition parties, including PTI, MQM-P and GDA.

A total of 158 votes out of total 168 were polled during the process while three TLP members who were present in the assembly did not take part in the voting process. Sindh Governor-designate from PTI Imran Ismail and GDA MPA Arif Jatoi remained absent during the voting process while one lawmaker of MQM-P Shahana Ashar and PTI lawmaker Seema Zia have yet to take oath as members.

Notification on the provincial assembly seat, PS-54 Tharparkar, was not issued b y the ECP while polls were not held on PS-87 Malir after the death of a TLP candidate.

Three members of PPP, Ali Nawaz Mehar, Ali Mardan Shah and Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah, took oath during Wednesday’s proceedings.

The provincial assembly proceedings began more than half an hour late. Mir Nadir Magsi chaired the session as the presiding officer for the speaker’s election.

First, polling was held for the speaker’s slot for which two candidates, Agha Siraj Durrani from PPP and MQM-P’s Javed Hanif, were in the race.

Former information minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah was polling agent of PPP and former PTI parliamentary leader Khurram Sher Zaman represented the opposition candidate. Abdul Aziz Junejo cast the first vote for the speaker slot while the last vote was cast by presiding officer Nadir Magsi.

The counting process was also supervised by the polling agents. The presiding officer who announced the results also administered oath to newly elected speaker Agha Siraj Durrani.

As per the results of the speaker’s election, a total of 158 votes were cast. Durrani received 96 votes and Javed Hanif 59 votes. Three votes were rejected.

A similar process was followed for the election of deputy speaker. Agha Siraj Durrani acted as the presiding officer. As per the results, PTI’s Rabia Azfar Nizami bagged 59 votes while PPP candidate Rehana Leghari secured 98.

An exchange of hot words also took place between former opposition leader Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hasan and CM-designate Murad Ali Shah over the votes polled for the candidates.

Khwaja Izhar said it was a matter of concern for him that on the very first day of voting process in the house, PPP lost support of its two votes for the speaker slot. He was hinting at 96 votes secured by the speaker as compared to 98 votes cast for the deputy speaker.

Murad Ali Shah responded to it and said the PPP has 97 lawmakers in the house, so the opposition should trace its member who voted for the PPP candidate.

At least 18 lawmakers from PPP, MQM-P, GDA and MMA spoke during the proceedings and felicitated the newly elected speaker and deputy speaker of the provincial assembly.

Speaker Agha Siraj thanked the party leadership for giving him the opportunity and the lawmakers for reposing trust in him. He also lauded the services of Shehla Raza as deputy speaker during the last tenure and said she played her role efficiently. “She has a special role in our party and also remained in jail along with me,” he said.

“I also want to appreciate cooperation of the opposition parties extended to me due to which I was able to successfully run the house during the last tenure,” he said. He also asked the lawmakers to learn from the proceedings.

Deputy Speaker Rehana Leghari said PPP has always worked for empowerment of women and has replaced a woman deputy speaker with another woman. “I also want to applaud Shehla Raza for running the house in the best possible manner,” she said.

Former chief minister Murad Ali Shah congratulated Durrani and said it was a historic moment as Durrani was the first speaker to get re-elected for the post in the provincial assembly.

He said the PPP during its last 10 years gave chances to the opposition for legislation and even approved private bills of opposition parties in the house.“During the tenure from 2002-2007, we were not even allowed to speak on our agenda,” he claimed.

He said they had severe reservations about the polls, but they have come to the assembly for the betterment of the masses.

PTI leader Haleem Adil Shaikh said he gets perturbed whenever he hears news bulletins flashing the term the august house has become a fish market due to ruckus from the members. “Now we all should decide to move forward and to carry out legislation in this house for the betterment of the masses,” he said, adding it is not the job of former judges and commissions to deal with the issues of the province; it is time for the lawmakers to take responsibility for improvement.

PTI lawmaker Khurram Sher Zaman also felicitated the newly elected speaker and deputy speaker. He suggested legislative training for the newly elected members. He also called for ensuring presence of government officials during question-answer sessions.

Khawaja Izhar said a speaker does not represent opposition or treasury; instead, he is the custodian of the entire house. “The opposition members have also secured millions of votes and represent at least 40 percent of the province, so they should also be heard in order to address the issues of the province,” he further said.

GDA leader Hasnain Mirza averred they would cooperate with the government side during legislation meant for the betterment of the masses. “We will also play our supervisory role to check the activities of the government,” he affirmed.

The speaker recalled he had suspended the assembly officials over ruckus during proceedings on August 13 during oath-taking. He, however, said slogans from political workers on such occasions have also occurred in the past, adding it is the right of the political workers who want to witness their party’s victory in the assembly.

Meanwhile, the provincial assembly secretariat approved nomination forms of former chief minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and ex-opposition leader Shaheryar Maher for the chief minister’s post.

The name of Murad Ali Shah was proposed by PPP lawmaker Makhdoom Rafique-uz-Zaman and seconded by Mir Nadir Magsi while nomination form of Shaheryar Maher was proposed by MQM-P’s Khawaja Izharul Hasan and seconded by PTI’s Khurram Sher Zaman.