Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi on Thursday called on PTI Chairman Imran Khan to reaffirm the support of his party, the PML-Q, for the ex-premier’s decision of dissolving the Punjab Assembly, but he sought a seat adjustment formula before proceeding ahead with the move.
In the meeting, the chief minister was accompanied by his son, former federal minister Moonis Elahi, and relative, MNA Hussain Elahi.
PTI senior leader and former federal minister Pervez Khattak and Imran's political adviser Hafiz Farhat Abbas were also present.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan also said that he would dissolve the provincial assembly as soon as directives were received from Imran Khan.
Mahmood added that the provincial cabinet was united on this agenda and rumours of governor’s rule had no substance as the provincial government enjoyed a two-third majority in the assembly.
Further, it has been learnt that Elahi was willing to dissolve the Punjab Assembly as per the wishes of Imran, but the Chaudhrys of Gujrat expressed their desire for the settlement of a seat adjustment formula, wherein the MPAs who had won their seats on the PML-Q tickets in the 2018 general elections could be accommodated in the future.
The PML-Q had secured 10 seats in the Punjab Assembly through a seat adjustment formula in the 2018 elections.
Subsequently, a power-sharing formula was evolved between both the parties, wherein the PML-Q were given some ministries in Punjab as well as the Centre.
However, then premier Imran was reluctant to give a portfolio to Moonis at the Centre for the first three years. Later, he agreed and Moonis became the federal minister for water resources in July 2021.
It was witnessed that the relationship between the PML-Q and the PTI was not cordial in Punjab.
This was despite the fact that the PML-Q lawmakers were given huge development funds for their constituencies.
After the resignation of Usman Buzdar as the Punjab chief minister, the PTI decided to field Elahi as its candidate for the slot.
Moonis compelled his father to accept the PTI's offer, a development that was astonishing for the PML-N, which had agreed to field Elahi as its candidate as well.
When Elahi became the candidate of the PTI, differences emerged within the Chaudhry cousins.
PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain had already announced his support for the no-confidence resolution against then prime minister Imran.
His son, Chaudhry Salik Hussain, who is an MNA, voted in the no-confidence resolution in the National Assembly. Now, he is a federal minister.
Currently, the PTI is the most popular political party in Punjab as per surveys.
It has been learnt that Imran believed that Elahi was a sharp politician and his alliance with the PTI was for his political survival.
Similarly, Imran also holds in high regard Moonis, who despite strong resistance from the family, compelled his father to side with the PTI.
Presently, Shujaat is the head of the PML-Q.
It is not clear as to whether or not the Elahi faction within the PML-Q will adjust seats or contest the next elections on PTI tickets.
Professor Tahir Naeem Malik said the politics of the Chaudhrys was based on factionalism as they had a vote bank in a few areas of Punjab, including Gujrat, Talagang, Mandi Bahauddin, Sargodha, etc. On the other hand, the PTI's politics was based on national issues.
Both parties have different vote banks.
However, Professor Malik believed that except Gujrat, the PML-Q led by Elahi could not succeed in securing any seat without the support of the PTI as was witnessed in the 2018 general elections.
Another political analyst said contesting the elections on the PTI tickets was more useful than seat adjustment for Elahi’s faction within the PML-Q.
He added that the PTI had a bitter experience with the PML-Q during the first three years of its government since 2018.
Therefore, he believed that contesting the elections on PTI tickets might cause difficulties in governance if the party came to power next time.
He also said the PTI supporters had been sidelined in the districts where the MPAs belonged to the PML-Q.
The PTI local activists have many grievances against the PML-Q MPAs.
In case the PML-Q MPAs contest the elections other than on PTI tickets, the latter’s local activists might not support them and that would ultimately benefit the PML-N in the polls.
It has also been learnt that the PTI was also willing to accommodate the PML-Q faction led by Elahi in the next elections.
Informing about the meeting on Twitter, Moonis wrote that the PML-Q had assured Imran that the chief minister’s slot belonged to him and Elahi would dissolve the Punjab Assembly on his directives.
As per the party sources, the Punjab CM handed over his recommendations on the dissolution of the provincial assembly to the PTI chief.
He assured the former premier that he fully supported his decision to resign from the provincial assembly, saying the decision of the dissolution rested solely with Imran.
He also underlined that the country should move towards snap polls in case the ruling coalition resigned from the assembly.
The two leaders also discussed the political situation, administrative matters and rules of procedure of the Punjab Assembly while the chief minister also informed Imran about relief-oriented programmes in the province.
In addition, matters pertaining to constitutional procedures and the expected plans of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to avert the dissolution also came under discussion.
Elahi said the PDM was merely bragging about their vote count in the Punjab Assembly, as the opposition alliance did not have the required majority to topple the government in the province.
On the occasion, the PTI chairman said a meeting of the provincial parliamentary party had been called for a final consultation about the future of the Punjab Assembly and he regretted that the "cabal of thieves" had destroyed the economy.
An official handout issued by the provincial government highlighted that during the meeting, the chief minister said his party’s lawmakers stood by Imran. “We will support all his [PTI chief’s] decisions,” he added.
He reiterated that the Punjab Assembly was Imran’s trust entrusted with him.
“Imran Khan is indispensable for Pakistan,” he maintained.
Elahi further said the opposition, which wanted to fulfil its desire of bringing a no-confidence motion against him, would fail again.
“The opposition is daydreaming. It can claim to bring a no-confidence motion while lacking the required number of members,” he added.
Elahi pointed out that if the Punjab Assembly was in session, governor's rule could not be imposed on the province.
On the occasion, Moonis said that everything instructed by the PTI chairman would be carried out without any hesitation.
Earlier, Khattak called on the chief minister to discuss matters about the Punjab Assembly as well as the political situation. Elahi vowed to stand by the former premier.
He also assured Khattak that his party would counter the opposition’s moves.
He lambasted the coalition government, saying that “inept rulers” had been imposed on the country.
The PTI chairman will interact with the members of the Punjab parliamentary party through video link in Lahore on Friday (today) and deliberate on the dissolution of the provincial assembly.
The leadership of the PDM parties, especially the PML-N and PPP, remained on their toes while waiting for the outcome of the meeting between the PTI chairman and the Punjab chief minister.
The opposition parties in the Punjab Assembly had earlier decided to move a no-trust motion on Thursday to avoid the dissolution of the legislature.
Earlier reports indicated that the PML-N and its allies would likely use two options in their hands to thwart a bid to dissolve the provincial legislature.
Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman would ask Elahi on December 1 to receive a fresh vote of confidence from the house.
With a break of one to two hours, the MPAs of the opposition parties would file a no-confidence motion against the chief minister.
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