LAHORE: The struggle between the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the PML-Quaid (PML-Q) for the support of Punjab Assembly members of the PML-Q has entered its final phase.
While the Sharifs of the PML-N eye the support of a majority of the 84 PML-Q provincial legislators, the Chaudhrys of the PML-Q want to prove at an Iftar dinner today (Wednesday) that at least 70 are still loyal to them.
The two parties realise they cannot co-exist in their struggle for power and either of the two will have to perish.
The PML-N has been trying to break away legislators and notable leaders of the PML-Q since their chief Nawaz Sharif’s return from exile. After forming a government in Punjab and being a coalition partner in Islamabad, they had been able to win the support of a number of PML-Q legislators. But its decision to quit the government in the Centre has increased the chances of these Q-Leaguers supporting the PPP in the Centre and in Punjab.
The Chaudhrys meanwhile will make a significant achievement if they are able to gather 70 legislators at their residence today. For the first time in seven months, PML-Q Punjab President Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and his son Moonis Elahi are personally approaching party members.
The PML-Q has already claimed it has won back the support of 15 of the members of its forward bloc in the Punjab Assembly.
The party’s initial objective is to stop the PML-N from getting support of a majority of their party’s legislators, but it eventually looks at depriving the PML-N of a simple majority in Punjab.
The PML-N needs to break away at least 43 of the 84 PML-Q provincial legislators to protect them from the defection clause. The law defines party decision as that made by a majority of its parliamentarians. Its second goal is to keep its Punjab government intact even if the PPP quits the coalition. The PML-N is currently 10 members short of a simple majority in the Punjab Assembly even if it gets support from the two Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal and three PML-Functional members.
The N-League had proven during the presidential election the support of 208 MPAs in the provincial assembly, but the PML-Q claims it has won 15 of them back. 11 PML-N legislators: The PML-Q leadership also claims it is in touch with 11 PML-N legislators in Punjab who would leave their party ‘at an appropriate time’.
The Q-League has little to offer to members, however, because it is in the opposition. The PML-N on the other hand is using government resources to attract PML-Q legislators.
The Sharifs had not interacted with the members of the PML-Q forward bloc earlier, in order to avoid allegations of horse-trading. But now, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is bargaining directly with the defectors.
According to sources, Punjab government has put all its resources at the disposal of the PML-Q defectors. They are being offered huge funds for development and transfer of revenue and police officials on their recommendations.