LAHORE: The presidential election in Punjab once again set alarm bells ringing for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz because as much as 16 of their votes were rejected while two MPAs didn’t even show up to vote.
The victory of the government candidate was inevitable, Dr Arif Alvi led the presidential election in Punjab by 45 votes after securing 186 votes as opposed to Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s 141, while Aitezaz Ahsan (PPP) got 6.
However, the election results added authenticity to speculations regarding vulnerability of PML-N Punjab’s cohesion. The party had held a meeting of its Punjab Parliament to explain the process of voting to ensure that no votes would be wasted. The voting process is no rocket science which is why 16 members not being able to execute the rather simple act did not make sense.
MPAs Ali Abbas and Chaudhry Arshad Javed went a step further and did not even show up to vote. The PML-N leadership was not made aware by the absentee MPAs, sources told.
These 18 votes are even more than that lost by the PML-N during the Punjab Assembly speaker election as the number at that time was 12. While the party leadership had vowed to investigate the 12 votes lost in the speaker election and had assured swift and harsh action, nothing in this regard was done by the party management and leadership in Punjab.
The dissent among PML-N members over voting for Maulana Fazlur Rehman is an open secret and there were a significant number of members who had expressed their reservations but they had vowed to abide by the party policy.
They sent a message of dissent through the way they voted. PML-N leader Malik Muhammad Ahmad while speaking outside the Assembly had said that any speculation regarding fault lines within the PML-N were wishes of the rivals.
However, Acting Governor Punjab Ch Pervaiz Elahi categorically said he was against the formation of a forward bloc in Punjab. Talking to the media outside the Punjab Assembly here on Tuesday while responding to a question about notification of the opposition leader, he said when a person put signatures of all, which were different from their identity cards, the members themselves have to put the signatures that took time. He said: “I am against formation of a forward bloc and no forward bloc is being formed.”
In response to another question, he said Shahbaz Sharif destroyed Punjab, nobody else did so much damage which he did to every system of the province, peoples' rights have been snatched, hospitals and schools for the poor have been destroyed, now improvement has to be brought in ever sector and effective and result-oriented measures taken.
“One N-Leaguer said to me today hostel rooms are not proper. I said to him why have you remained silent for 10 years, why have they not asked Shahbaz Sharif that at least put into order the hostel and employees and drivers place, why had Punjab Assembly building not been made operational.
Shortcomings were his own and he would transfer government officers within no time, all have seen that period, now have patience for circumstances betterment, leave aside little things.” He said Imran Khan had asked for 100 days, give him time and wait.
About a question regarding new local bodies system change, he said the local government minister could say something better in this regard, N-League had destroyed this system as well and snatched powers of local bodies representatives elected during our government.”