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PML-N perplexed over loss of Senate seat in Punjab

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Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) won the Senate elections held on 3rd March with 15 seats but their victory was spoiled with the loss of one seat in Punjab which was won by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) candidate, former governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar. PTI won the seat despite having only 30 MPAs in the Punjab assembly. After the surprising loss of one seat, the PML-N leadership set out to find the culpable MPAs who voted against their own party.

Some media sources stated that all the PML-N guns were pointed at Hamza Shahbaz, the son of the interim PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif, since he was the focal person for coordination and an organized electioneering for the Senate. He was the responsible person for making separate pools for the seven candidates of PML-N on the general seats. The party had done its homework to ensure victory for all its candidates but Hamza failed to anticipate any rebellion in the ranks.

A huge amount of horse trading was observed in the elections and there is no reason to believe that it would stop there. There are already a number of media reports suggesting that PPP and PTI are trying to woo the 10 independent candidates.

Reports suggest that Hamza was reprimanded by his father, uncle (Nawaz Sharif) and cousin (Maryam Nawaz) for the defeat. Maryam Nawaz had already announced on 3rd March that PML-N won 12 seats in Punjab but she faced an embarrassment when the results turned out to be otherwise. The loss has created a major issue since PML-N London President Zubair Gul was the candidate on the 7th seat, he is considered to be a close aide of Nawaz since he looks after him during his visits to London.

Read more: Anomalies in Senate elections: Siraj and Imran Khan urge CJ to…

Zubair Gul is reported to have relinquished his UK citizenship to become a member of the Senate so must be frustrated about his defeat. The PML-N leadership would now have to compensate him over the loss. Because of the separate pools, PML-N would be easily able to identify the rebel legislators who voted against the party. Media reports suggest that severe action would be taken against them and they will be expelled from the party. Some sources also suggest that they would join PTI, the party they voted for, very soon.

The setback in the senate elections might lower the chances of Hamza succeeding his father on the coveted position of chief minister Punjab even if PML-N somehow manages to win the elections. Maryam Nawaz, on the other hand, has been very vigilant with her campaign. She has held a number of huge public rallies and is strengthening the PML-N social media wing owing to the need of the time. Hamza’s increasing absence from the mainstream politics and his blunder in the elections will prove to be big hurdles in his political journey.

It would be enormous effort for the PML-N to keep its independent senators loyal to the party after winning the elections. The miscalculations in the senate elections prove that PML-N members might not be as loyal to the party as the Sharif family believes.

The PML-N faces a number of challenges in the coming few weeks. The biggest one of them is winning the seat of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman. They are currently the biggest party in senate with 33 seats followed by PPP with 20 seats. PML-N and its allies make around 47 seats in the senate and if MQM-P decides to join them with its 5 seats, they would certain make the next chairman. Pervaiz Rasheed and Raja Zafarul Haq are the prominent candidates for the chairmanship.

Read more: PML-N and PPP fight for the Senate Chairmanship

It would be enormous effort for the PML-N to keep its independent senators loyal to the party after winning the elections. The miscalculations in the senate elections prove that PML-N members might not be as loyal to the party as the Sharif family believes. A huge amount of horse trading was observed in the elections and there is no reason to believe that it would stop there. There are already a number of media reports suggesting that PPP and PTI are trying to woo the 10 independent candidates.

Six among them were elected by the dissident PML-N MPAs in Balochistan. The independent candidates will be a decisive factor for determining the chairman. PML-N is already siting at the edge in the Senate elections, if any of their regular candidates decide to betray the party, PML-N would lose the Senate chairmanship one more time. PPP and PTI are expected to join hands to defeat the PML-N but after MQM-P’s humiliating defeat in the Senate elections, they are certain to join PML-N to prevent PPP from coming to power again. 


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