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Balochistan independent senator-elect Sadiq Sanjrani has emerged as a top contender for the post of Senate chairman, with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), PPP, MQM-P and Balochistan senators reportedly reaching consensus on his nomination for the March 12 election, DawnNewsTV reported.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto on Sunday announced support for Sadiq Sanjrani and further said that the party would field Saleem Mandviwalla for the deputy chairman seat.

The PTI had earlier on Friday announced that it would vote for neither the PPP nor the PML-N's nominees during the election for Senate chairman. A day later, however, the PTI announced that it would vote for the panel announced by Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo in connection with the election for the Senate's top posts.

On Sunday, the party announced its support for Sanjrani, already backed by CM Bizenjo, as its pick for the post. The PTI will also be backing the PPP's nominee for deputy chairman Senate, who will be a part of Bizenjo's panel, as per an agreement with the Balochistan CM.

Sanjrani, an independent senator from Balochistan, is considered close to the PPP leadership and is backed by the ruling party in Sindh ─ in exchange for his support to the PPP's proposed deputy chairman, Saleem Mandviwalla ─ and by four out of five MQM-P senators, who have also extended their support to the PPP's nominee for deputy chairman, according to well-placed sources.

PTI's inclination towards PPP's candidate emerged after a meeting between Balochistan CM Bizenjo and PTI Chairman Imran Khan at the latter's Bani Gala residence on Sunday. Bizenjo was accompanied by a delegation of independent senators-elect from the province.

During the meeting, Khan announced his support for any candidate the PPP puts up for the post of deputy chairman as per an agreement with Bizenjo.

"As per our promise to the Balochistan CM, we will support the PPP's candidate for deputy chairman of the Senate," Khan assured a delegation of the senators-elect from Balochistan.

Imran Khan told the media in a visit to Faisalabad on Sunday that during the meeting with Bizenjo, he had been asked to support the Balochistan CM's panel, which included a deputy chairman nominated by the PPP. Both sides had already agreed on supporting senator-elect Sanjrani for the post of chairman of the Upper House.

The PTI chief added that he had agreed to support Bizenjo's panel as "mitigating a sense of deprivation among the citizens of Balochistan is essential".

"Extraordinary steps are needed to remove the sense of deprivation among the people of Balochistan," he said. "Countering the corrupt and selfish Sharif family is mandatory to safeguard the reputation of the parliament and democracy," he claimed, explaining his reasons behind the decision.

According to the sources, the PML-N has been having a tough time rallying support for its picks for the posts of chairman and deputy chairman Senate.

The PML-N's leadership had asked Hasil Bizenjo of the National Party to take the lead for them in the race for Senate chairman and garner support from other senators in the province, but the independents gave him the cold shoulder, the sources told DawnNewsTV.

Hasil Bizenjo was subsequently advised by the newly elected Balochistan chief minister to stay away from the tussle brewing between the independents and the ruling party, the sources said.

Senate agenda for Monday

The Senate is scheduled to meet on Monday to elect its chairman and deputy chairman.

According to the agenda issued by Senate Secretariat for Monday, the session will start at 10am. The newly elected senators will take oath after which the session will be adjourned.

After the adjournment of the session, nomination papers for the chairman and deputy chairman will be submitted.

The session will resume at 4pm to elect the chairman and deputy chairman of the Upper House.

Names of the candidates will be announced during the meeting and later a secret ballot will be held.

The names of winning candidates will be announced after which they will also take the oath.

With additional reporting by Fahad Chaudhry in Islamabad.