ISLAMABAD: With the result of Tuesday’s presidential election clear, what will be of interest to watch how many votes slip away from one side to another with key parliamentary parties, however, claiming they have their cardholders standing behind their candidates.
“We have no doubt that all of our federal and provincial legislators will vote for Aitzaz Ahsan,” Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) spokesman Farhatullah Babar told The News when approached.
Senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Ahsan Iqbal told this correspondent that all the members of his party and partners of the opposition alliance except the PPP will back Maulana Fazlur Rehman. “There is no organised group within these forces that will vote against the decision.”
Pakistan Threek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Sadaqat Abbasi, who was elected to the National Assembly from Murree defeating former Prime Minister Shahid Khakan Abbasi, remarked to The News that ruling coalition’s nominee Dr Arif Alvi will win hands down.
Meanwhile, the MPs voting against the direction of their parties will not be hit by the defection clause of the Constitution as Article 63A specifies certain categories where it applies. It says if a member of a parliamentary party composed of a single political party in a House [National Assembly, Senate and provincial assembly] resigns from his membership or joins another parliamentary party; or votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction issued by the parliamentary party to which he belongs, in relation to election of the prime minister or the chief minister, or a vote of confidence or a vote of no-confidence, or a Money Bill or a Constitution (Amendment) Bill; he may be declared in writing by the party head to have defected from the political party, and the party head may forward a copy of the declaration to the presiding officer [speaker or chairman] and the chief election commissioner (CEC) and shall similarly forward a copy thereof to the member concerned.
Ahsan Iqbal said that the opposition’s joint candidate was going to get the votes of even “bystanders, floaters” but no consensus nominee could be fielded because of the differences. “There was a good chance of victory of our contestant if all the opposition parties had teamed up.”
Babar has the feeling that Fazlur Rehman may not get the votes of women and “liberals” of the PML-N and other opposition parties that have sponsored him. “It will be a big political statement and a huge embarrassment for Fazlur Rehman if he failed to get the votes of the parties that are backing him.”
On this basis, Babar believed, Aitzaz Ahsan will get more votes than what the PPP actually has. He cited the election of Maulana Ghafoor Haideri as the deputy chairman of the Senate in 2015 when the latter had bagged 16 votes fewer than what Mian Raza Rabbai had secured as chairman although the panel was put up by the same political parties.
Sadaqat Abbasi hoped that because of his amicable personality and the political support he enjoys, Arif Alvi will also get some opposition votes. Even otherwise the PTI led coalition is in majority in the Electoral College -- the Senate, National Assembly and four provincial assemblies.
Both the PML-N and PPP leaders equally bemoaned lack of consensus between them to have a common candidate, which, they agreed, will benefit the PTI representative, who is going to have a walkout.
Babar said that it was decided in the PPP’s internal deliberations that talks would be held with other opposition entities to pick up a joint candidate, and his party would forward the name of Aitzaz Ahsan. However, he said the leaking of the name of its choice did not send a positive message to other parties, leading to discord.
The Electoral College consists of 706 votes and any contender securing 354 votes or 51pc will be elected in for a five-year term. Under the Constitution, every member of the National Assembly and Senate has one vote each. Thus, the two chambers contribute 446 votes (342 of the Lower House of Parliament and 104 by the Upper House). Every provincial assembly has 65 votes equal to the total members of the Balochistan legislature. Likewise, every lawmaker of the Balochistan will also have one vote. All the provincial assemblies will have 260 votes.