It will not be a smooth sailing for Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi for his elevation as chief minister of the largest province, as he will face a bumpy road ahead in way of his journey to reach the coveted office.
Although the experienced politician from Gujrat has geared up efforts for the daunting task to get 186 votes from the Punjab Assembly – the house which he is a custodian of currently – he didn’t get any breakthrough so far to reach the magic number. The dissident MPAs of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), who are over two dozen in Punjab, didn’t offer their support to Elahi so far.
Elahi could get the support of one single dissident MPA of PTI so far, as he held a meeting with Syed Rafaqat Ali Gillani the other day.
Parvez Elahi was nominated by Imran Khan as a replacement for Usman Buzdar in Punjab just few hours after the no-trust motion against the chief minister was submitted in the Punjab Assembly. Both the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) have said that Elahi could not become the Punjab CM with the votes of the PTI. Moreover, Elahi will also face a tough time by the MPAs of the ruling PTI, which is divided in many factions in Punjab, including the Tareen group, Aleem Khan group, Cheena group and now the Buzdar group. These factions have more than two dozen votes in Punjab Assembly and Elahi will have to win all of them.
The party position in Punjab Assembly shows that the PTI is the largest party with 183 MPAs, followed by 165 MPAs of PML-N, while the PPP has seven members. There are five independent MPAs in Punjab Assembly, while one MPA belongs to the Rah-e-Haq party. The PML-Q headed by Elahi in Punjab has just 10 MPAs, including himself. Elahi will have to take 186 votes in the House of 371 to become the Punjab CM once again, the office he previously held from 2002 to 2007.
Elahi faced a setback when he was denied support from both the Tareen group and Aleem Khan group on Wednesday. “An incompetent CM was imposed on us for four years and now Elahi is being imposed against the wishes of PTI workers,” said Mian Khalid Mehmood, provincial minister for disaster management, who is the spokesperson for the Aleem Khan group. He further said that Parvez Elahi would not be accepted by the true workers of the PTI who struggled to bring a change in the country.
Similarly, Elahi couldn’t get the support of Tareen group despite the fact that some senior ministers visited the group’s members on Wednesday. Minister for Local Government Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, Minister for School Education Dr. Murad Ras and other senior ministers, including Syed Samsam Bukhari and Sibtain Khan, visited the ministers hailing from the Tareen group but couldn’t get any positive response from them. Tareen group’s ministers Ajmal Cheema and Malik Nauman Langrial didn’t give any commitment to the government team, which had demanded support for Elahi. Mehmoodur Rasheed refused to comment on his meeting with the Tareen group.
A large number of MPAs want to go with the opposition, as they need the PML-N tickets in the next elections in their respective constituencies.
Meanwhile, Elahi also held a meeting with the senior team of ministers at his Punjab Assembly chamber to draft a strategy to woo back the dissidents. The meeting was attended by Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Raja Basharat, Minister for Local Government Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, Minister for School Education Dr. Murad Ras, Minister for Literary Education Raja Rashid Hafeez, Minister for Forests Sibtain Khan, Minister for Mines and Minerals Hafiz Ammar Yasir, Minister for Industries Mian Aslam Iqbal and Minister for Public Prosecution Ch Zaheeruddin.
It is pertinent to mention here that Leader of the Opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz has also directed his MPAs not to hold any meeting with Elahi without the approval of the party leadership. “Soon, we’ll contact both Aleem Khan and Tareen groups. The CM will be from the opposition,” Hamza said.