Struggling Hamza consults allies after SC’s decision on dissidents

Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Hamza Shehbaz, who met a setback after the decision of the apex court on dissident lawmakers, started consulting allies who played a vital role in his election to the coveted office.

A day after the Supreme Court’s decision on the presidential reference, struggling Hamza convened a meeting of coalition parties to discuss the current political scenario in Punjab. The apex court said in its decision that the votes of dissident lawmakers would not be counted and it was really worrisome for Hamza who got 25 votes from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) dissident lawmakers to become the CM. The PTI believes Hamza is no more the chief executive of the province, as he lost the majority in the House once the votes of 25 dissidents were rejected.

In the evolving situation, Hamza met a delegation of PPP lawmakers led by the party’s parliamentary leader Syed Hassan Murtaza at the CM’s Secretariat. Later, Hamza also met the dissident MPAs of PTI who cast their vote in his favour last month.

The ruling alliance vowed to move forward together while discussing the post-SC decision scenario.

Addressing a press conference along with PML-N leaders at 90-Shahra-e-Quaid-e-Azam, Hassan Murtaza said it was a very difficult decision for Nawaz Sharif to accept Parvez Elahi as a candidate for the CM’s slot but he did so anyways on the request of PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari. In the same presser, PML-N leader Atta Tarar said the government of Hamza Shehbaz was not in danger and he was still the Punjab CM. He claimed that Hamza had the support of 173 MPAs even after the de-seating of dissident MPAs, while the PTI-PML-Q alliance was relying on 168 lawmakers.

According to sources privy to the development, Hamza and allies were confident even after the SC’s decision. He was told that the numbers game would still be in his favour after the de-seating of 25 MPAs. After the decision of the apex court, four dissident MPAs of the PML-N would not be able to cast their votes against the party lines, and it would also go in favour of Hamza.

The numbers game in Punjab Assembly shows that it would be a nail-biting contest once again if there was a contest between Hamza and Elahi for the slot of the CM. After the de-seating of 25 MPAs, the strength of the House will be 346 instead of 371. In this House, the ruling alliance will have the support of 165 MPAs of the PML-N, seven MPAs of PPP, one MPA of the Rah-e-Haq party and four independents. The opposition alliance will have the support of 157 MPAs of the PTI and 10 MPAs of the PML-Q, which will make their total strength 167. If the PTI gets back its five MPAs on reserved seats, its tally will go to 172, making the contest more interesting.