The PML-Q has demanded the post of Punjab chief minister or deputy prime minister as a condition for forming a coalition provincial government with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), a source within the PML-Q told DawnNewsTV on Sunday.
According to sources within the PML-Q, the party has sent its demands for supporting PTI in Punjab to the PTI's senior leadership for consideration.
PTI Spokesman Naeemul Haq, while addressing a press conference today, dismissed speculation that a chief minister belonging to a political party other than the PTI would be appointed.
"The Punjab chief minister will belong to the PTI. There should be no mistake about it," he told reporters.
Both the PTI and PML-N are embroiled in a tussle for control of Punjab. Neither has been able to secure an outright majority in the provincial assembly as the PTI is in the lead with 132 seats, while the PML-N is on its heels with 129 seats.
Following the polls, both parties stepped up efforts to form alliances in order to secure control of the provincial assembly. The PTI has welcomed all parties ─ except the PML-N and PPP ─ to form the government with it.
At least 149 directly elected MPAs are required to form a government. With the addition of reserved and minority seats, at least 185 out of a total of 371 seats are required to form a government.
After the PTI and PML-N, the PML-Q has managed to secure eight seats, and the PPP six. Independent candidates have won 28 seats.
Following the polls, the Chaudhrys of PML-Q have suddenly assumed a significant role for formation of the Punjab government for both the PML-N and the PTI. Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi’s name is doing the rounds as a potential candidate for the chief minister’s slot in case his party manages to take on board a dozen or so independents, and eventually supports either the PTI or PML-N.
Meanwhile, PML-Q leader Chaudhry Moonis Elahi took to Twitter to deny that his party had made any demands for the post of chief minister or deputy prime minister from the PTI.
PML-Q decides to side with PTI
On Sunday, a meeting of the PML-Q leadership decided to support the PTI in forming the government in the Centre and Punjab, party sources told DawnNewsTV.
It was decided at the consultative meeting headed by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain that PML-Q was an ally of the PTI and steps would be taken to further strengthen this alliance.
The party decided not to support the PML-N because its leaders "always seek contact for their own interests", the sources quoted PML-Q leaders as saying.
PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif, after setting aside differences with the Chaudhrys, had tasked senior party leader Ayaz Sadiq with contacting the PML-Q leaders. When Sadiq spoke to Elahi over the phone on Saturday and requested him to support the PML-N in Punjab, the latter responded that he would discuss the proposition with other party leaders and then get back to the PML-N.
According to sources within the PML-Q, when Elahi was separately contacted by PML-N's Mushahid Hussain for the purpose of forming a coalition government, the former said that since the PML-Q had fought the election alongside PTI, it would like to join them in forming the government.
"However, there is no such thing as a final verdict in politics, and we will not show rigidity at any point," the PML-Q leader was quoted as saying at the time.
The PML-Q is also reportedly in contact with seven independent candidates in Punjab.
The PTI, meanwhile, is finding it difficult to field a suitable candidate for the top slot in the province, though there has been discussion within the party regarding Elahi, who has experience serving Punjab (2002-07). Elahi has been elected on two National Assembly and one Punjab Assembly seats.
"In case there is no consensus in the PTI on his name, Elahi will prefer retaining an NA seat," a source earlier told Dawn, adding that although the PML-N might also offer Elahi a 'lucrative package' in Punjab, it is unlikely that the PML-Q will join hands with the PML-N being an ally of the PTI.