Thursday December 02, 2021

Senate election: Some political parties fielding more than their numerical strength

February 21, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Some political parties have fielded many more candidates for the Senate poll than their lawmakers in Provincial Assemblies can elect members of the Upper House of Parliament.

Importantly, a glance at the final list of contestants for the March 3 electoral exercise shows that there is not a single independent competitor in Punjab. The obvious reason is that the parliamentary parties may observe discipline and the calls of their heads.

However, independent candidates figure in the Provincial Assemblies of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan with the last one dominating in this connection.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has a total of six legislators in the KP Assembly, a tally, which is not sufficient to elect even one Senator. But it has sponsored three candidates – two for general seats and one for woman’s seat.

Similarly, the PPP has only eight lawmakers in the Punjab legislature, a figure which is far less than what is required to elect even one Senator. It has put up two aspirants – one for general and technocrat seat each. On the other hand, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has fielded for Punjab the same precise number of contestants that its provincial lawmakers can elect as Senators.

However, the PML-N, which has 16 members in the KP Assembly, has sponsored three candidates – one each for general, technocrat and woman’s seats. It is making adjustments with smaller parties and the provincial governor belonging to the PML-N has stated that talks have been held between him and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to discuss the Senate election. The apparent main objective behind these consultations is that both the parties get in the poll what is due to each one of them. In KP, the PTI has proposed eight candidates – five, one and two candidates for general, technocrat and women’s seat respectively. However, as per its numerical strength, it is likely to get five or six seats from this province. The PTI’s ally, Maulana Samiul Haq, is contesting as an independent competitor. According to an agreement reached with him sometime back, the PTI is expected to spare some votes for him so that he also wins. In that case, its seats will be reduced by one.

The PML-Q, which has eight members in the Punjab Assembly, has also sponsored one candidate. In view of its tally, he is unlikely to be elected.

In Sindh, the PPP, on the basis of its known number of lawmakers in the Provincial Assembly, is in a comfortable position to elect nearly eight Senators. However, it has sponsored a dozen candidates, hoping to cash in on the chaotic situation the Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) is faced with.

Since the numerical power of every political party in each Provincial Assembly is documented, anyone getting more seat than their tally of provincial lawmakers will raise valid doubts about the honesty of exercise and point to the use of money to rope in votes.

Surprises may be sprung in Balochistan where a number of independents are in the race. The PML-N may suffer on account of the disarray that hit it sometime back when its chief minister had to go. This time, twelve senators each will be elected from Punjab and Sindh while eleven MPs each will return from KP and Balochistan apart from two members from the federal capital and four senators from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).