The war of words once again broke out between PPP and PML-N. Both the main components of opposition alliance PDM is on collision course. This time the issue is the position of leader of the opposition in Senate. PML-N is not happy the way PPP got the post of Senate opposition leader. PML-N is accusing the PPP for siding with treasury benches to gain this position.
Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani has been declared leader of the opposition in Senate as 30 senators showed support for him. A notification issued by the Senate Secretariat states that in pursuance of Rule 16 (3) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate 2012, the chairman has been pleased to declare Senator Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, with effect from March 26.
Mr Gilani, who was in a straight contest with PML-N candidate Azam Nazeer Tarar, secured the seat with the support of 30 ‘opposition’ senators. These included 21 members from the PPP, two from the Awami National Party, one from the Jamaat-i-Islami, two independents from erstwhile Fata (Hidayatulla and Hilalur Rahman) and four from the independent group of Dilawar Khan, who had been supporting the PML-N in the past. Other members of the group include Kaira Babar, Naseebullah Ullah Bazai and Ahmad Khan.
Mr Tarar had submitted his nomination papers with signatures of 17 members, all from the PML-N. He also had the support of five senators belonging to the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) and two each from the Balochistan National Party (BNP) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP) and one senator of National Party (NP).
PPP was not happy with the nomination of Azam Nazir Tarar as PDM candidate. PPP voiced concern over naming a person who was representing the police officials responsible for hosing down the place where Benazir Bhutto had been assassinated, but the PML-N refused to compromise on Tarar’s nomination. PPP was not ready to accept Tarar as PDM candidate.
The PPP had filed the request for the post of Senate opposition leader amid differences among other component parties of the PDM, with both the PML-N and PPP claiming their right to the key office.
The PML-N argued that the decision about the opposition leader had been taken by a PDM committee and it had nothing to do with the elections of Senate chairman and deputy chairman.
The PPP admitted that it had earlier agreed to give the office of opposition leader to the PML-N, but insisted that the situation had changed after Mr Gilani’s defeat in the Senate chairman election.
PML-N was confident to clinch the seat after winning support of 27 opposition senators. PPP had the support of 26 senators before winning the support of independent group. The support of four independent candidates changed the situation in favour of PPP.
As soon as Chairman Senate issued the notification of Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, PML-N reacted strongly. PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz also reacted angrily on this move.
PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal declared this move as stabbing the opposition alliance in the back. The PML-N is visibly upset and angry. PML-N is accusing the PPP for collaborating with Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani and establishment.
They are saying that BAP senators have supported Gilani for this position. For PML-N, it is a clear indication of PPP’s silent understanding with real powers of this country. PPP is denying these accusations.
The reason is that PML-N was expecting to get this position. The PDM made the decision that Gilani would contest the chairman senate election while JUI-F candidate will contest for deputy chairman and PML-N candidate will become the leader of the opposition.
PML-N is left empty handed despite being the largest party in the national assembly. PML-N is feeling betrayed as PPP made gains on its expense. PPP got Gilani elected with the support of PML-N. Then Gilani contested the chairman senate elections. After losing senate chairman election, he succeeded to become leader of the opposition. PML-N has gained nothing from this exercise.
PML-N knows that Gilani is the face of PPP in South Punjab. His rise is posing direct threat to PML-N’s political position in South Punjab. PML-N is hoping to get maximum seats from South Punjab to make a strong comeback in the next general elections.
The PPP also wants to win 10 to 15 seats of national assembly from South Punjab to increase its national tally. PPP is looking to make inroads into South Punjab as PTI losing support. PML-N is hoping that many electables will return to its fold before the next General elections.
PML-N needs to win nearly 30 seats out of 53 national assembly seats in South Punjab to emerge as the largest party in the parliament. Without winning majority seats from South Punjab, PML-N will be forced to form grand coalition with PPP and other parties.
A three way contest is expected in South Punjab between PPP, PML-N and PTI. The lot is at stake.
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