LAHORE - The candidates of PTI and PML-N will contest election for the office of 23rd chief minister of the Punjab here Sunday (today).

The PTI has fielded Sardar Usman Buzdar, an MPA from South Punjab, while the PM-N has put in the field Hamza Shehbaz Sharif, Lahore-based central leader of the party and son of the former chief minister.

The PTI commands the strength of 176 MPAs while the PML-N enjoys support of 161 in the Punjab Assembly where election for the chief minister office will be held on the basis of division of the members.

The newly elected speaker of the Punjab Assembly, Ch Parvez Elahi, has called the session to meet at 11am. Earlier on Wednesday, the PTI and the PML-Q joint candidate, Ch Parvez Elahi and Dost Muhammad Mazari, were elected speaker and deputy speaker, obtaining 201 and 187 votes, respectively. The total number of Punjab MPAs is 371 of them 359 have been sworn in.

Besides the said two parties, PML-Q has 10 MPAs, PPP seven and Rahe Haq Party one. There are three independent MPAs-elect, including former interior minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan, who have not taken oath.

Sardar Usman Buzdar came to the Punjab Assembly to file his nomination papers while Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman filed Hamza Shehbaz Sharif’s papers.

Sardar Usman Buzdar who resides in a highly under-developed area of Taunsa Sharif started his political career in 2002 when he was elected Tehsil Taunsa Sharif nazim. He has done his masters in Political Science and belongs to an agricultural family. Buzdar, around 40, jointed PTI before the last elections and returned to the Punjab Assembly from PP-286, Dera Ghazi Khan.

Hamza Shehbaz Sharif, a businessman-cum-industrialist, is the son for former Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif. He had won NA and PA seats from Lahore constituencies. Hamza surrendered the NA-124 seat and kept PP-146. He has been in the political limelight since 1997.

On his arrival at the Punjab Assembly, PTI candidate Usman Buzdar was accorded a warm welcome by the party members and workers. A very tight security had been maintained in the assembly on that occasion.

While talking to media persons after filing nomination papers in the assembly secretariat, Buzdar said he will do his best as the CM to come up to the expectations of his party chairman and Prime Minister Imran Khan. “I have to serve the poor and will accomplish every task assigned to me for this purpose in the province.” When a question was asked about the creation of South Punjab province, he said: “Just wait, Imran Khan will meet all the promises.” Usman said he belongs to South Punjab, the most backward part of the province, and collective efforts will be made to improve the living standard of the people of that part. He also vowed to work hard for peace and stability in the country.

Replying to a question, he said there is no criminal case against him. When asked he travelled to the assembly on the vehicle bearing no number plate, he said: “The jeep was not mine, but was owned by my friend.” When another question was asked about unavailability of electricity in his village, he said it was the federal government’s responsibility to meet electricity needs of his village, but it failed, adding now such facilities would be provided to these areas.

Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman, talking to media persons, said Imran Khan has once again taken a U-turn as he has nominated for the CM slot the man who is already facing NAB cases contrary to his claims of appointing neat and clean persons on the public offices.

To a question, he said most of the 12 party men who had voted for Ch Parvez Elahi in the speaker election had been traced. He said of 161 members of the party 159 had been sworn in and they all would come to the assembly tomorrow to vote for their candidate. He said Independents who previously were part of the PML-N would also vote for Hamza. About disgruntled MPA Uzma Qadri, Mujtaba hoped she would also come to vote for Hamza Shehbaz.

Answering another question, Mujtaba said Hamza Shehbaz would be the leader of the opposition in case he failed to win the CM election.