Punjab Assembly Speaker and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate for the slot of the Punjab chief minister (CM) Chaudhry Parvez Elahi has intensified efforts to get the throne of the largest province of Pakistan.
Elahi, a seasoned politician, is facing a tough contest after the change of command in the centre. He was nominated by Imran Khan as the PTI candidate to contest against Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz for the office of CM.
Hamza, whose father is now the prime minister of Pakistan, appears satisfied with the number game after Jahangir Khan Tareen, Aleem Khan and Asad Khokhar groups announced their support for him.
Hamza claims that he has support of 202 MPAs in the Punjab Assembly, 16 more than the required strength to get elected as the leader of the house.
However, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) believes that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is involved in horse-trading to buy loyalty of MPAs.
A senior PML-N lawmaker told this scribe that it will be a smooth sailing for Hamza after the change of command in centre Punjab.
Sensing the gravity of the situation, Elahi has intensified efforts to woo MPAs. He will throw iftar dinners for MPAs hailing from the PTI and the PML-Q during the next three days at 90-Shahra-e-Quaid-e-Azam that is also known as the CM’s Office.
On Tuesday, Elahi chaired a meeting of PTI MPAs hailing from Rawalpindi, Sargodha and Multan divisions. The meeting was also attended by PML-Q MNA Hussain Elahi. Former ministers Raja Basharat, Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan, Hafiz Ammar Yasir, Raja Rashid Hafeez and Sibtain Khan were also present.
He will also chair a meeting of MPAs hailing from DG Khan, Bahawalpur and Sahiwal divisions today (Wednesday) while lawmakers from Gujranwala, Lahore and Faisalabad will call on him tomorrow (Thursday).
Reacting over the meetings of Elahi with PTI MPAs, PML-N Punjab Information Secretary Azma Bukhari said Elahi’s defeat is imminent.
“How can he use the office of the CM Punjab for political meetings,” she questioned, while advising him to arrange iftar dinners at his residence on Zahoor Elahi Road. She also condemned the “usage” of public money for political motives.
The session of Punjab Assembly to elect the CM Punjab is scheduled for April 16 but the matter is pending in the Lahore High Court, which may call for an early session.
Hamza had approached the LHC for an early session of Punjab Assembly. He had accused Elahi of using delaying tactics.
Last week, opposition lawmakers gathered at a local hotel in Lahore where they elected Hamza as the Punjab “chief minister” in a mock session of the assembly.