LAHORE, June 3: Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan was elected Punjab Assembly speaker for a second term here on Monday with a thumping majority.
As PML-N nominee, he secured 297 votes against 35 bagged by Raja Rashid Hafeez, a joint candidate of the PTI and the PML-Q, in a one-on-one contest. A total of 332 ballots were polled and none of them was rejected or challenged.
In the previous term, Rana Iqbal , the son of late Rana Phool of Kasur had been elected unopposed.
Both the PPP, which has seven members in the provincial house, and the Jamaat-i-Islami, with one member, abstained from voting.
Ironically, neither the treasury [read PML-N] nor the opposition [read PTI] considered the PPP, the party that ruled the country and three federating units in the last term, worthy enough to be approached for seeking its votes.
Two voters – Iftikhar Gilani and Sardar Muhammad Nawaz – were allowed to vote from outside the house under a special permission as they both were in wheelchairs and there was no facility for seating them in the house.
Chief minister-designate Shahbaz Sharif cast the first ballot followed by opposition leader Mian Mahmoodur Rashid and Q League’s Moonis Elahi.
Rana Mashhood Ahmed, outgoing deputy speaker who chaired the election session as senior most member of the panel of chairman, administered oath to Rana Iqbal.
Before taking oath and amid sloganeering by N League supporters, the newly-elected speaker went to the opposition benches to thank them for becoming a part of the democratic process, though they did not vote for him. He assured the opposition of taking them along in running the house.
Polling to the office of deputy speaker followed in which PML-N’s Sher Ali Gorchani got 293 votes while PTI-Q League’s joint candidate Waqas Hasan Moakkal managed 37.
Speaking on a point of order, Moonis urged the speaker ‘to be a true Rajput’ for giving the opposition an equal opportunity to speak their mind during the house business.
He regretted that the PPP, an ally of his party in the general election, abstained from voting instead of supporting the opposition candidates for the slots of speaker and deputy speaker.
The chair adjourned the house for June 6 (Thursday) morning when election to leader of the house (chief minister) would be held.