After the de-seating of 25 dissident MPAs of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the numbers game in the Punjab Assembly has become more interesting.
After subtracting 25 votes from the tally, Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shehbaz has lost the majority in the House. Hamza, who became CM on 16th April by securing 197 votes, had to take 25 votes from the dissidents of PTI hailing from JKT and Aleem Khan groups. After subtracting 25 MPAs who were de-seated by the ECP, no one has the numbers required to attain even a simple majority in the House – 186 votes.
If the election for CM Punjab is held again, a nail-biting contest is likely between Hamza Shehbaz and Ch Parvez Elahi. As per the constitution, the CM will be elected in the run-off election if both the candidates fail to attain a simple majority. The run-off election will be based on the number of MPAs present in the House at the time of voting and the candidate who gets the more votes will become the Chief Minister.
Both the parties are claiming that their respective candidate has more votes in the current scenario of the Punjab Assembly. After doing the basic math, it seems that it will be a neck-to-neck contest between both the contesting candidates. Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) has become the largest party in the Punjab Assembly with 165 seats after the de-seating of 25 MPAs. It has the support of seven MPAs of PPP and one MPA from the Rah-e-Haq party.
Moreover, four independent MPAs are also supporting the PML-N. These independent MPAs are Jugnu Mohsin, Bilal Warraich, Qasim Langah and Ahmad Ali Aulakh. The remaining independent MPA, Ch Nisar Ali Khan isn’t supporting anyone as he has not come to the House except for the day when he took his oath. So, PML-N is leading with 177 MPAs with the support of allies. There are four dissidents too within PML-N. The dissidents of PML-N are MPAs Mian Jalil Sharaqpuri, Ashraf Ansari, Maulana Gheyas-ud-din and Faisal Niazi. If the PML-N fails to win back the dissidents, then its figure will be at 173.
On the other hand, PTI’s numbers have dropped to 158 after the de-seating of 25 MPAs. If the vote of Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari is also subtracted, then PTI will have 157. Its tally will reach 167 with the support of 10 MPAs of PML-Q. So, the PTI-PML-Q alliance will be standing at 167. PML-Q leader Ch Moonis Elahi claimed that they will get back five reserved seats from those 25 de-seated. There were five MPAs on reserved seats (their women and two minorities), who got de-seated and Elahi claimed that the PTI will get these seats back.
However, the ECP didn’t take any decision to fill these five seats. If these five are also added up in the tally of PTI-PML-Q, then their figure will be at 172 while making the contest very interesting. If there is a tie between both the candidates, then Deputy Speaker can cast his vote which is called a ‘Casting Vote’ being the custodian of the House and the defection clause will not be applied to him. So, in this scenario, the vote of Mazari and Ch Nisar Ali Khan got much importance.
However, addressing a press conference after the decision of ECP, PML-N leader Atta Tarar said that their dissidents are back to the party and now PML-N has 177 votes while PTI-PML-Q has 168 votes. From the reserved seats, PML-N will get three and PTI will get 2 and then their tally will be at 180. “Our number game is very much clear and Hamza Shehbaz is still the CM,” Tarar said.
In his reaction to the decision of ECP, Punjab Assembly Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi said that it is the victory of justice. “I am the candidate of Imran Khan and I’ll dissolve the assembly within half an hour on the direction of Imran Khan after taking oath as Chief Minister,” Elahi said.