LAHORE - The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is not going to let ruling PTI get an easy win in the contest for Senate seat vacated by PTI leader and Punjab governor Ch Sarwar.

The opposition party has fielded Khwaja Ahmad Hassaan, who was defeated second time in succession by Pakistan Tehrike Insaaf (PTI) candidate in the last general election.

PTI has finalised the name of Dr Shehzad Waseem as its candidate who has previously served as state minister and adviser. Presently he is member of the PTI Core Committee and secretary of party’s committee on foreign affairs. He has been picked up against other potential candidates like Ishaq Khakwani, new PTI entrant and former PPP leader Nadeem Afzal Chann, Allama Muhammad Iqbal’s grandson Waleed Iqbal and Ch Ashfaq.

Khwaja Ahmad Hassaan is former mayor of Lahore and confidante of PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif. He also supervised the Orange Line Metro Train Project, apart from taking care of other transport projects, during the PML-N government.

The Election Commission has announced holding the election for the said slot on October 3. The Punjab Assembly is the electoral college for this contest which presently has 354 members.

The PTI with the support of its allies has a total strength of 187 members, followed by PML-N’s 159 and PPP’s seven. The PTI is therefore likely to have a smooth sailing in the polls.

But, it being the secret balloting, Nawaz League hopes getting votes from the PTI – particularly from those independents who had joined the majority party after the election thanks to the hectic efforts of Jahangir Tareen Khan, who now stands permanently disqualified for holding any public office.

PML-N Information Secretary Mushahidullah Khan told this scribe they have not lost hope and were campaigning for the senate seat to muster maximum support for their candidate.

In the March 3 Senate elections for 52 seats, Ch Muhammad Sarwar sprang a big surprise when he bagged the senate slot when the PML-N, by virtue of its own strength of over 300 members and pledge of support from 71 other parliamentarians, was sure to win all seven Punjab general seats up for grabs in the polls.

The PTI had only 30 MPAs in the Punjab at that time but Ch Sarwar astonished everyone by securing the highest number of 54 votes, against the required number of 45 to win a senate seat.

The PML-N had strongly reacted to the victory of Sarwar and imputed the same to the horse-trading by the PTI. It was found out that apart from the opposition members of PML-Q, the PPP and the JI, some members of the ruling PML-N too had voted the PTI candidate in second priority that earned him the top position among all.

The said seat fell vacant on September 4 when Ch Sarwar resigned as senator and was named by PTI government for the Punjab governorship.

Now an interesting fight is expected for the vacant seat in a scenario that has been changed through July 25 election and the following developments.

Before the PTI could set up rule in Punjab in mid August last, the PML-N experienced a bad taste in the last election for the Punjab speaker when PTI-led alliance fielded former Punjab CM Ch Pervez Elahi as their candidate and he won the contest, getting even over a dozen votes from PML-N MPAs.

The PML-N took serious exception to this manoeuvring. Now it seeks revenge and settle the score by courting secret support of PTI members for its senate candidate, though the opposite may happen and some PML-N members might vote for PTI this time too.