Punjab Assembly to elect new Chief Minister Punjab today

Hamza Shahbaz likely to be elected the new Chief Minister of Punjab today with support of PTI dissidents

Punjab Assembly is likely to elect new Chief Minister of Punjab today. Hamza Shahbaz is likely to be elected the 21st  Chief Minister of Punjab with the help of PTI dissidents. Ch Pervaiz Ilahi is the candidate of PML-Q and PTI. But the PTI is facing rebellion in the Punjab. PML-Q has 10 MPAs while PTI has 183 MPAs. A united PTI could have easily elect Ch Pervaiz Ilahi as CM Punjab without much trouble but split in the PTI has made it difficult for Pervaiz Ilahi to elect CM Punjab. 
 Deputy Speaker Mir Dost Muhammad Mazari will chair the Punjab Assembly session after a division bench of the Lahore High Court rejected a petition of Pervaiz Elahi, asking it to stop the deputy speaker from chairing the session. 
The court directed the deputy speaker to facilitate national and international observers, media persons, representatives of PILDAT, Fafen and other organisations during the election. Pervaiz Elahi and other PML-Q leaders had challenged a decision of a single bench, which allowed the deputy speaker to preside over the session despite that he had himself approached the court seeking permission to conduct the election. 
The judgment of the two member bench of LHC observed , “It is very strange to note that on the one hand the appellants are of the view that the court cannot intrude into the internal affairs of the assembly but on the other are pressing hard for passing an order in violation of the Rules, 1997.” 
The bench ordered the chief secretary and the inspector general of police to ensure foolproof security for the day of election. IG Police Rao Sardar Ali submitted before the court that all possible measures had been taken for safe and smooth arrival of MPAs to the assembly whereas internal security was ensured for the secretary of the assembly in coordination with the security staff. Chief Secretary Kamran Ali Afzal informed the court that all departments had been directed to facilitate the election.

The bench observed that in the event of complaint by any side, rapid action shall be taken against the delinquents. The contest is also significant as a record number of disqualifications are expected after it as MPAs voting against the party line will have to face disqualification. 
The opposition has fielded Hamza Shehbaz for the CM's slot, who enjoys the support of majority of legislators in the House that comprises 371 members. Already, Hamza's father, Shehbaz Sharif, who was serving as the Opposition Leader in the National Assembly, has been elected as the 23rd Prime Minister of the country after a successful no-confidence motion against Imran Khan.
Hamza Shehbaz needs the support of at least 186 MPAs in the House to be the next chief executive of the province and his party claims that he will get even more than 200 votes.
In the last contest for the CM's slot that took place on August 19, 2018, PTI's Sardar Usman Buzdar had won the election bagging 186 votes, whereas Hamza Shehbaz got 159 votes. Seven MPAs of the PPP had abstained and the House stood at 361 then as 10 seats were vacated. 
Now with the full House comprising 371 MPAs, the PMLN is highly optimistic of regaining the crown of Punjab. Pervaiz Elahi, the joint candidate of the PTI and PMLQ, is also in high spirits and hopeful of his election as the CM for a second term.
He had served as the Punjab CM between 2002 and 2007. He is regularly holding meetings with PTI MPAs but the disadvantage he is facing is a split in the ranks of PTI, whose around 30 MPAs have revolted against the party. Most of them are siding with the group of Jehangir Tareen, who has joined hands with the PMLN. Similarly, a group of MPAs headed by former Senior Minister Abdul Aleem Khan, has also joined the PMLN. All of them have decided to vote against the party line and are ready to accept disqualification. 
It is pertinent to mention that under the law, any member who votes against the party line will face disqualification and most PTI MPAs, who are supporting the PMLN, have been promised the party ticket for by-polls in which they have to return to PA to ensure that their party doesn't lose majority. The plan is to get elected in the by-polls on PMLN tickets and serve the rest of the term as MPAs of the PMLN. 
                                                                               Khalid Bhatti 

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