Some ‘N’ MPAs may ‘breach’ party lines

LAHORE: Today’s contest for Senate seats from Punjab may carry a couple of surprises for the Sharifs as some MPAs are reportedly planning to vote against party lines “just to give the impression that a revolt is brewing among them because of the indifference of the leadership towards them.”

54f7a6f49eaa6The “planning” was at its embryonic stage during the lunch thrown by the PML-N chairman and a nominee of the party for one of the two technocrat’s seats from Punjab Raja Zafarul Haq for Punjab Assembly members, the electorates, at a hotel here on Wednesday.

“Though we don’t want to see our party’s nominee lose against PPP’s Nadeem Afzal Chan, it’s time to show our existence to the leadership by giving a couple of votes to the latter,” an MPA, who was part of such a discussion admitted this reporter.

The PPP and the PML-Q, each having eight MPAs, and four independent MPAs have already announced their support for Mr Chan, who needs at least 35 first priority votes to make his way through the Senate on a general seat.

The PML-N MPA was not sure whether the “rebel group” would chose not to vote for Nihal Hashmi or Saleem Zia, both from Karachi.

Hamza Shahbaz, the son of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, is looking after electioneering of the N League’s nominees as the latter is away in Saudi Arabia accompanying Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Hamza has, as part of campaigning for seven general seats of Senate, formed as many groups of MPAs led by a provincial minister. Each nominee has been associated with the relevant group to increase their mutual interaction (and introduction for most of them are “alien” to the MPAs).

Former law minister Rana Sanaullah Khan has thoroughly briefed the MPAs about how to vote in the polls so that not a single ballot goes wasted.

A source claimed to ensure that all votes are polled as directed by the leadership the first (PML-N) voter would not cast his/her ballot in the ballot box and instead would put a blank white paper brining the original stamped vote outside the polling station and hand it over to the party official.

This vote would be given to the next voter who would cast it but bringing back his/her own ballot and so on.

In this way, the source said, one vote would go wasted but it would ensure that the rest were polled as per party lines.

The step, he added, was being taken on reports that former governors Makhdoom Ahmed Alam Anwar and Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar were making hectic efforts using their influence in the PML-N to make as much deeper dent into the N-League MPAs as possible.

However, no MPA contacted by this reporter admitted that they had been given any such direction about the polling day.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission officials assumed charge of the Committee Room B of the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday to set up a polling station there for the Senate polls.

Polling will start at 9am and will continue without any break up till 4pm.

All CCTV cameras have been removed from the place while the MPAs have been directed to submit their respective cell phones, cameras, etc. to a special desk to be set up for the purpose before entering the polling station.

They are required to carry with them their respective badges duly issued by the Assembly Secretariat for identification as a voter.