PTI proves its popularity in Punjab

Sunday's by-polls shock PML-N as former rulers fail to secure three provincial assembly seats

Sunday’s by-polls in three provincial assembly constituencies perhaps brought another shock for the PML-N, the party eying the Punjab crown.

On the other side, the elections were a bit disappointing for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), mainly for the reason it was expecting a clean sweep. However, the PTI candidate lost by a narrow margin against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) contender in the neighbourhood of the provincial capital under its rule. Since the by-polls were held due to two PML-N MPA’s resignations from Sheikhupura’s PP-139 and Khanewal’s PP-209 and a third’s disqualification from the Election Commission of Pakistan for holding fake degree from Bahawalnagar’s (Chishtian) PP-241, the former ruling party was hoping to secure all the three slots. It, however, could not manage success on two.

The elections’ results will certainly strengthen PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s narrative and further damage the PML-N, but they are unlikely to have any impact on the Punjab Assembly’s current scenario which is completely different from the July by-polls on 20 seats when the PTI’s landslide victory on 15 seats had completely changed the numbers game, replacing Hamza Shehbaz Sharif as the chief minister.

In July, the PML-N could only manage to win four besides one independent who succeeded from Lodhran. Before the July by-polls, the PTI and the PML-Q had jointly attained a strength of 173 (163 of PTI and 10 of PML-Q). But after the polls, with 15 additional seats, its strength reached 188 whereas the figure to attain a simple majority in Punjab Assembly stands at 186. Now, the PTI will alone have 180 members in the Punjab legislature. And, the PTI-PML-Q alliance makes figure 190.

On the other side, the PML-N strength is 167 and by adding seven members from the Pakistan People’s Party, five independents and one from the Rahe Haq Party in its bucket, the opposition number touched 180, 10 short of the ruling coalition. Ch Nisar Ali Khan is another independent, making the house full: 371. Analysts believe the 10 members of the PML-Q could play a vital role in shaking the house of power.

Iftikhar Alam is a correspondent writing on religion, politics, agriculture, and energy. He takes people on a rich journey through the culture of Punjab. He tweets @imiftikharalam and can be reached at iftikharalam@live.com.

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