There have been allegations of horse-trading ahead of the Punjab chief minister election Sunday, of buying the vote of MPAs. A lot is at stake because whichever party wins over the most MPAs gets to choose the chief minister for Pakistan’s most powerful province.
The government and the Opposition are accusing each other of buying and selling members of the assembly. The PTI said that crores of rupees are being spent. The PML-N is saying the same thing.
PTI chairman Imran Khan is scheduled to go to Lahore today. Fawad Chaudhry said that Imran is planning to meet Pervez Elahi.
The numbers game
In a nutshell, when the first election was held to choose a CM for Punjab, 25 MPAs threw a spanner in the works. Since then, a court has had to get involved to judge the legality of their vote and another count will have to be held. The danger is that MPAs will be persuaded to vote for one side or other after being promised money the likes of which may beggar belief.
The Punjab Assembly has a total of 371 seats or MPAs. The majority will choose a chief minister.
In the last Punjab Assembly election, 186 MPA (out of 371) votes were needed to make Punjab’s chief minister. Hamza Shehbaz got 196 or more but only after 25 rival party, PTI, MPAs voted against their pary chief’s instructions. This is what sent Punjab’s house of elected representatives into a tailspin.
The matter of 25 defecting MPAs (who made it to the assembly on one party’s ticket but voted for the opposition when it came to choosing a CM) landed in court. (Five reserved seats). And while there was a history of floor-crossing, this was the first time a court de-seated those MPAs. It said there would be a second run at the voting for CM.
In the meanwhile, the July 17 by-election was held on those 20 MPA seats and much to everyone’s surprise, the PTI got 15, the PML-N four and one went to an independent. This changed the numbers game.
What to watch for Friday
The PTI and PML-Q want to make Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi chief minister. With the addition of 15 new lawmakers to the PTI roster following their victory in the Punjab by-election, PTI now has 188 votes, two more than what is needed in a full quorum.
The PML-N and PPP want Hamza Shahbaz to become chief minister. His 196 or more votes in the last run off for the Punjab CM was courtesy of the 25 votes of dissident lawmakers. The PML-N currently has 178 parliamentarians on its side.
This brings the total to 366 votes (in a house of 371). The balance will be tipped for whoever gets one over 50% or 184.
This total includes two PML-N MPAs, Faisal Niazi and Jalil Ahmad Sharqpuri, who have resigned and will not be casting their votes. While the speaker has accepted their resignations, the ECP is yet to notify them.
Adding to the confusion is the PTI MPA from Rahimyar Khan Masood Majeed Chaudrhy, who has left for Turkey. He is not expected to participate in tomorrow’s vote.
Both parties have accused the other of paying off MPAs to stop them from voting.
Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari, who was elected on the PTI ticket, will also not be voting as he will preside over the PA session and the election.
In the scenario where the candidates get the same number of votes, the speaker gets to cast the deciding vote.