The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MPA of the Jahangir Khan Tareen group, Malik Nouman Ahmad Langrial, has expressed his willingness to contest the by-polls after Punjab chief minister’s election on the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) ticket.
Langrial stated that at the hospitality shown by the PML-N was more than what they had expected, adding that they would be happy to contest on their ticket if it was offered to them. He said that they had not joined the PML-N for any incentive. “We just want to save the country from the wrath of the PTI.”
He added that corruption during the PTI rule was at an all-time high. “In addition to corruption, there was incompetence.”
The lawmaker said that the PTI has no political future. A party, which after coming to power abandoned those who had given their blood and sweat for it and relied on “parachuters”, was bound to fail, he added.
He said that the PTI lacked vision and its leadership the ability to trust. “We are ready to go back to our constituents if the PTI gets us de-seated.”
Another defecting MPA of the ruling party, Muhammad Salman said that there was a legal barrier, and to his understanding that would not allow the PTI to de-seat them.
He said that if over a certain number of parliamentarians decided to form a bloc, it would be a forward bloc, and hence won’t be termed defection. Secondly, he added, for the PTI to de-seat them, it “will have to prove that we disobeyed the parliamentary leader’s instructions, which we don’t have at the moment”.
However, a senior lawyer Abdullah Malik said that no such provision (forward bloc) exists after the implementation of the 18th Amendment.
He said that Usman Buzdar is no longer the PTI’s Punjab parliamentary leader. However, he added, even if the PTI had them de-seated, they would contest the elections on the PML-N ticket.
When asked if the PML-N had agreed to give all defecting MPAs a ticket, Salman said that there may be issues on two to three seats, but a majority of the defecting MPAs would get the PML-N ticket.
He said that at the moment, the PML-N has the support of 14 PTI MPAs from the Jahangir Khan Tareen group, five PTI MPAs from the Aleem Khan group, three from the Khokhar group and eight other PTI MPAs who assured of their support for the PML-N.
Langrial and Salman are among over two dozen defecting MPAs, who have assured of their support for PML-N candidate Hamza Shehbaz for the Punjab chief minister’s slot. The support paves the way for Hamza, without which they do not have enough votes to cross the magic number of 186.
At present, the PML-N has 165 members of its own, of which two have defected from the party, bringing the number down to 163, while Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has a total of seven votes, independent MPAs five and Pakistan Rah-e-Haq party has one vote of, which puts the total tally at 176, requiring at least 12 more votes from the PTI.
If the PTI moves to de-seat all dissenting members it will bring down its total strength to around 150. Even with the support of the PML-Q, they would lack the numbers to get a no-confidence motion passed from the assembly.
Further, 20(3) of the Rules and Procedures of Punjab Assembly 1997, states that even during the election for leader of the house, if no candidate secures a majority of the house, a round of poll would be held wherein a candidate that secures the most amount of majority votes of the members present in the house would be elected as CM, meaning that majority of present members’ support is enough for chief ministership.
However, MPA Ghazanfar Abbas Chheena said that his group stands by the PTI’s nominee – PML-Q leader Pervaiz Elahi – for the Punjab CM’s slot, denying media reports that his group was considering to support PML-N leader Hamza during the elections.
Chheena said that his group did not take decisions based on the party’s popularity graph. “Unlike others, the Chheena Group will stand by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf till the last day of the incumbent provincial assembly.”
He also clarified that his group’s name was not Chheena Group, the name actually “is Supremacy of Parliament Group”. “All of our 14 members are intact.”
He said that he too would like to advise Prime Minister Imran to resign and sit on opposition benches, adding that what magic could the PML-N do while in government with only a year remaining.
“Let them have it their way, and let them bear the consequences of their own mistakes,” he added.