LAHORE - The dramatic victory of PTI nominee Ch Parvez Elahi as speaker of the Punjab Assembly created shockwaves in the PML-N camp yesterday when he secured 201 votes, including at least 12 from the Nawaz League.
The deputy speaker seat was secured by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf candidate Dost Muhammad Mazari, with a lesser margin, in a contest that was delayed due to protest by the would-be opposition party against the apparent horse-trading.
In the contest for speaker slot, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz candidate Ch Iqbal Gujjar could get only 147 votes against PML-Q leader Parvez Elahi, though the party has strength of 162 members – including three MPAs-elect who are yet to take oath.
The flight of some PML-N members to the rival side – thanks to political craftsmanship of Parvez – forced the party to mull over boycott of the election for the deputy speaker slot.
The outcome was quite humiliating for the party which had made claims of springing surprise in the speaker and deputy speaker election. The Nawaz camp therefore gathered at the committee room and reflected over the situation for hours.
They rejoined the House only after obtaining assurance from the likely Treasury side [Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf led alliance] against any attempt at creating a forward bloc out of fickle N-Leaguers. Also, they took a fresh oath from its own members for strictly voting the party candidate in the deputy speaker contest.
This strategy worked, at least partly, as the margin of PML-N defeat in the second contest was thinner.
PTI candidate Dost Muhammad Mazari won the deputy speaker seat by securing 187 votes against PML-N candidate Muhammad Waris, who got 159 votes.
The speaker’s election was held under the supervision of outgoing Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan.
The PPP with seven members abstained in the process.
Soon after the number of votes bagged by PML-Q Provincial President Ch Parvez Elahi was announced, the PML-N members rose up to a massive hullaballoo in front of the presidium.
In a long spell of protest, the N members raised obnoxious slogans against the newly elected speaker, PTI Chairman Imran Khan and his party members.
Amid this turbulence, Parvez Elahi took oath of the speakership and made the maiden address to the House. He continued to receive felicitations from his voters while PML-N members carried on their uproar.
“Let them make noise as their wound is much deep,” Ch Pervez Elahi said, taking a jibe at the PML-N in his first remarks after taking the speaker seat.
The redeeming feature of this entire episode was a cool and composed behaviour of the PTI members against all the insulting remarks, signs and hooting of PML-N members.
PML-N is going to play the Opposition role in Punjab after a long time. Last time it sat on the opposition benches in the Musharraf era after 2002 elections. Ironically, it was PML-Q which ruled during that period and it was Ch Parvez Elahi who was the chief minister.
The Nawaz League however regained power in Punjab in 2008, though it was the PPP which ruled at the Centre.
The PML-N members, mostly women, made deafening slogans during the protest while the central leaders of the party – Khwaja Saad Rafiq and Hamza Shahbaz Sharif – were seen standing pensive and visibly worried at the rear.
The newly-elected speaker suspended proceedings of the House apparently for prayer, probably hoping that the break would help restore order in the House to let the process for the deputy speaker election take place.
The PML-N members were initially reluctant to take part in the election for deputy speaker. It took them more than two hours to come back to the House after negotiations between the teams on both sides were held.
Speaking to the House after re-entry, Khwaja Saad warned of serious consequences if any further attempt was made for carving out a forward bloc out of the PML-N.
He said they had a number of reservations and objections to the result of speaker’s election, yet they are in the Parliament only to sustain democracy and let the system go on.
Reflecting on the PML-N government after 2008 when a bloc of PML-Q members was created to prop up the Punjab government, he said, his party never ventured for creating blocs out of the mainstream parties like PTI or the PPP while a response was given when a dictator acted for it.
He said they know how contacts were made to their members and what was offered to them. He said they had beforehand expressed their apprehensions about the attempts on forward bloc.
Saad said they did not want to return to the House but were here on assurance by the PTI team that no attempt will be made on its member for any forward bloc in the future. He said “we must go forward by leaving behind all that happened before and after the 2018 elections.
However, he warned that if strife was made to push the Opposition to the corner or win over its members the consequences will be disastrous. At the same time he pledged to play the role of a responsible Opposition.
Parvez Elahi, who had been chief minister of Punjab from 2002 to 2007 and deputy prime minister from June 2012 to March 2013, in his first speech thanked Almighty Allah for bestowing him victory and also thanked Imran Khan, the PTI members and those from the other side who voted for him.
He vowed to discharge responsibilities of the office honestly and treat all the members equally and justly. He said he has been blessed by the special help of Almighty Allah in his victory.
He said as custodian of the House “I commit to run the House with consensus and consultation.” He said the House will focus on its true job of legislation, and will always act to uphold sovereignty of Pakistan, its ideology and respect.
PML-Q leader said they are responsible to the people of the province who voted them to power. And instead of resorting to making noise and rumpus, they will concentrate on the actual job - that is legislation in the public interest.
Discounting the PA performance over the last 10 years, he said, there will be hell of a difference between the house performance under his custodianship and that of last decade of PML-N rule.
He vowed to strictly implement law, rules and regulations of the Assembly. He also promised to complete the under construction building of the Punjab Assembly which he had started as speaker in 1997.
Polling for the speaker election started at 12 noon and continued till 3pm. A total of 359 votes were polled of which one was rejected and another of Shama Ali of the PTI was cancelled after the Opposition objected that she has shown the ballot paper to his party members. However, the PTI allowed vote of Ishrat Ashraf of the PML-N when similar situation confronted her.
The PML-N members took part in the proceeding wearing black arm bands. Most of them were present in the House holding posters of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for which they also chanted loud slogans.
At the time Hamza Shehbaz Sharif was casting vote he found the inkpad dried up. He got a fresh one through the chair. Two separate polling booths for male and females were set up.
Media talk of Parvez, Hamza
Newly-elected speaker Ch Parvez Elahi told the media after his election that the PML-N did horse trading to create a forward bloc out of his party, PML-Q, after 2008 general elections.
The PML-N did what did not suit its character, he said. What happened on Thursday with the PML-N was the divine retribution, he added.
Parvez said they will work hard and perform to deliver to the public welfare. He said their target is welfare and betterment of the layman, adding that good intentions were a guarantee to positive outcome.
He thanked Imran Khan for naming him for the speakership. To a question about the nomination of their candidate for the chief minister slot, he said the selection of the name for next CM was a discretion of Imran Khan.
PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz Sharif accused the PTI of committing horse trading of the independents.
Talking to media at Punjab Assembly here yesterday he said, in the speaker’s election dacoity was committed on his party votes. They will not let the House run if this practice continued, he warned.
Hamza said in the deputy speaker election they got all of their own members’ votes. He said the PML-N is still the largest party in the Punjab.
To a question on PPP’s refusal to vote for Shehbaz Sharif in the election for prime minister, he said the joint opposition had named his father for the contest but what can be done if any party draws back.
Pervaiz election as PA speaker cracks PML-N