Numbers game complete for PTI to elect Chief Minister in Punjab

After winning the by-elections in Punjab, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is once again in a position to form the government in the province, while 186 votes are needed to get a simple majority in the House.

However, after the by-polls on 20 seats in Punjab, the second phase of the Chief Minister’s election will be held on July 22.

Status of PMLN in Punjab Assembly:

According to the unofficial results, Hamza Shahbaz has now received the support of 178 members after winning four seats in the by-elections.

The number of PMLN members in the Punjab Assembly was 165, which reduced to 162 after the resignations of two members and the disqualification of one member. After winning four seats, the government coalition includes 166 members of PML-N, 7 members of Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians, one member of Rah Haq Party and 4 independent members.

PTI status in Punjab Assembly:

On the other hand, after the victory of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf on fifteen seats, the number of members supporting Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has reached 188 in which 178 members of PTI and 10 members of PML-Qare included.

However, the newly elected independent MPA [Member Punjab Assembly] Rafi Bukhari has not yet decided to support anyone while Chaudhry Nisar has kept himself apart from the election process.

However, PTI will lose one of its vote due to Deputy Speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari becoming the presiding officer in the Leader of the House election whereas the candidate for the slot of Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervez has more than the required number of 186 members whereas to further strengthen its position, PTI is also claiming to have contacts with 4 independent members who were associated with PML-N.

Speaking to Pakistan Today, a senior PMLN leader admitted on the condition of anonymity that the PTI had in fact dispelled the impression in the general elections of 2018 that Lahore was a stronghold of the PML-N and contrary to expectations, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf emerged as a major party in Punjab in 2018 as well.

He added that the by-elections of 2022 have now confirmed that the grip of PML-N has weakened not only in Lahore but also in Punjab.

The said leader further claimed that the reason for PMLN’s defeat at its home ground was not only the displeasure with the local leaders of the party but also the non-activeness of the allies in the elections and the presence of a compromised government in the federation.

“In Punjab, PML-N was forced to ignore its workers and issue tickets to defecting members. Disgruntled members, including Asif Malik Bha, Irfanullah Khan Niazi and Aamir Iqbal Shah. Irfanullah Khan Niazi and Aamir Iqbal Shah bid good-bye to PMLN on one hand and on the other hand defeated PML-N candidates by contesting by-election on PTI ticket,” he said.

The said leader believed that one of the major reasons for the defeat was PMLN President and Prime Minister Mohammad Shahbaz Sharif not visiting the constituencies due to the ban of the Election Commission.

“Due to the new candidates in many constituencies, the local leadership of PMLN could not be active in the election campaign in the way that Tehreek-e-Insaaf was. If we look at the election results of PMLN’s losing candidates as a whole, it appears that PML-N, Pakistan People’s Party, JUI(F) have failed miserably to make any significant gains. The party selected very weak candidates for the elections in Lahore. Similarly, there is anger within the party about Nazir Chauhan, but he was given the party ticket. Meanwhile, the party resigned from its MPAs and further reduced its numbers in the assembly. If we look at the current situation, now if the by-elections are held in those constituencies where the elected members have resigned, will the PML-N win from there?” he said.

The PML-N leader believed that even before these by-elections, there were differences in the leadership of the party which was also seen in the processions and a clear division was visible in the PML-N.

“There was a clear gap between the long-time workers of PML-N and the workers who left and joined PTI. In each constituency, there was a nominated candidate of the PML-N and another long-time party worker stood as an independent candidate. Similarly, the voter was also in a dilemma whether to vote for the one who is the identity of the PML-N in this constituency or the one who was contesting the election against the PML-N in 2018. Compared to the PTI, there was also a severe lack of narrative in PML-N as Imran Khan made the narrative of foreign conspiracy and inflation popular among the people and the proof of which was Imran Khan’s large gatherings in every constituency,” he added.

However, on the other hand, a senior leader of PTI informed on the assurance of anonymity that in view of the current situation, PTI cannot change the CM candidate now.

“Since the election of CM is now in process, PTI cannot change its candidate now despite having such a majority. The second is that PTI is not even in a position to exclude Chaudhary from its Punjab politics. After the results of the by-elections, there is a strong possibility that Parvez Elahi will be elected CM with a simple majority in the House but on the other hand, there is concern in some circles of PTI about making Pervaiz Elahi the Chief Minister. One of the main reasons is that some quarters of the party believe that Chaudhary will not prove to be as helpful and loyal to the leadership of PTI as Usman Buzdar was. Buzdar used to complete all kinds of assignments given by the PTI leadership on a phone call, but Chaudhary probably won’t and if Chaudhary remains the Chief Minister of Punjab for one year, he will further pave his way for the next election,” he said.

The said leader also claimed that PTI was being blackmailed by Chaudhry Pervez Elahi in a difficult time and there was anger in the party about his behavior.

“When the no-confidence motion was moved against our Prime Minister, it was Pervez Elahi who used to say that the PTI government lacked 100 percent wisdom and that our government was taking decisions in panic and anger. It was also Pervaiz Elahi who was also considering the offers of the opposition at that time and making Asif Ali Zardari the guarantor of his dealings with opposition. Pervaiz Elahi only wants the post of Chief Minister for which he has been meeting with the opposition even in difficult times,” he added.

Shahab Omer
Shahab Omer
The writer is a member of the staff and can be reached on [email protected]


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