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Contest of factions as Punjab set to elect new ruler today

Hamza wins over both Tareen, Aleem groups

A nail-biting contest is likely between the government and opposition for the election of Punjab chief minister for which the voting will be held today (Sunday) in Punjab Assembly.

It was one of the busiest days in the history of Punjab Assembly where political bargaining was at its peak throughout Saturday. Both the candidates were meeting the lawmakers in their respective chambers to get maximum votes in the contest. The incumbent speaker and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leader, Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, is the candidate of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), while Leader of the Opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz was pitched by the joint opposition parties.

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“Election of Chief Minister under Article 130 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan” was the agenda item shared by the Punjab Assembly Secretariat.

Saturday’s session was started after the delay of around four hours from its scheduled time and could last only for a few minutes. Only the schedule was announced for the election of leader of the House. The session was chaired by Parvez Elahi. The slogans of ‘al-widah al-widah’ (goodbye, goodbye) and ‘Go Imran Go’ were chanted by the opposition benches, while the woman MPAs from treasury benches chanted slogans in favour of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who will also face vote on no-trust motion today.

The opposition MPAs also chanted the slogan ‘Go Buzdar Go’ when incumbent Chief Minister Usman Buzdar entered the House. The Punjab Assembly secretary also explained the mode of voting. The voting will be held through open division of the House. The session will be chaired by Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari today.

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Earlier, both the candidates – Parvez Elahi and Hamza Shahbaz – claimed that they had sufficient numbers to become the chief minister. Talking to the media outside the Punjab Assembly, Hamza said the issue was not to get the slot of the chief minister, as the opposition was actually struggling to get rid of “this corrupt government”. “We’ll form the government with the support of the PPP, Tareen group, Aleem Khan group and independent MPAs,” he said. “We’ll all work for the betterment of this province,” he added.

Hamza also visited the Jahangir Khan Tareen group’s MPAs, who assured him of their support. There were 16 MPAs of Tareen group when Hamza visited its leader Malik Nauman Langrial, who formally announced the group’s support to the opposition’s candidate.

Speaking on the occasion, Langrial said he hoped that Hamza would serve the province efficiently and therefore they announced to support him. The dissident MPA of the PTI hailing from the Tareen group also lashed out at Usman Buzdar by saying that he had ruined the province and damaged the PTI a lot. He made it clear that there was no ‘deal’ between the Tareen group and the PML-N to support Hamza for the CM’s slot. “We didn’t demand any seat or office in return for supporting Hamza,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Hamza said they would start the process of development where it was interrupted in 2018 when Shehbaz Sharif left as the Punjab CM. He also thanked the members of the Tareen group for showing their confidence in the leadership of Shehbaz Sharif and Nawaz Sharif. After Hamza’s meeting with Tareen group, its three MPAs returned to the PTI who were earlier present in Hamza-Tareen group meeting.

Federal Minister for Water Resources Chaudhry Moonis Elahi, the son of Parvez Elahi, brought them back in his personal vehicle. Abdul Hayee Dasti, Syed Rafaqat Gillani and Ameer Muhammad Khan later showed their support to Elahi. Later, Hamza also went to the PPP Secretariat in Model Town to pay his gratitude to the party for supporting him.

Our first target is to oust this incompetent government and later we will serve this country collectively, Hamza said. “The people want that this corrupt government should be ousted constitutionally,” he said. He also thanked PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Asif Zardari for nominating him for the slot of the Punjab CM.

Later, Hamza also visited another PTI dissident leader, Aleem Khan, who also assured the support of his group to the opposition’s candidate.

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