PPP, PML-N face opposition from within ranks over no-confidence motion against Sanjrani

Updated June 25, 2019

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Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani administers oath on March 12 to newly elected Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla. — APP/File
Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani administers oath on March 12 to newly elected Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla. — APP/File

Senators from the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz have opposed passing a no-confidence motion against Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, Senate members from both parties told DawnNewsTV on Tuesday.

Party members have refused to be part of the no-confidence motion, a PML-N senator said.

Similarly, PPP leadership was advised against such a move by the party's senators.

PML-N workers said that the only reason PPP had voted for Sanjrani was to oppose PML-N. They further remarked that the PPP had purposely chose not to field Raza Rabbani as a candidate, despite being advised to.

Meanwhile, the deputy chairman of the Senate, Saleem Mandviwalla, has also opposed the motion, DawnNewsTV was told. Mandviwala is reportedly of the view that such a move will be a source of great embarrassment for the Senate.

When the Senate elections were held, the PPP had cast 19 votes in favour of Sadiq Sanjrani, while the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and its allies had cast 32 votes in support of Saleem Mandviwalla, a source close to the Senate chairman said.

The source also alleged that the motion against the chairman was the wish of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman alone.

In January this year, Mandviwalla had confirmed reports that efforts were underway to remove Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani from his office.

Referring to meetings of former president Asif Ali Zardari with Maulana Fazlur Rahman and Mir Hasil Bizenjo, he had said that a no-trust motion against the incumbent chairman of the Senate would be brought if opposition parties including the PPP, PML-N, National Party (NP) and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) took a collective decision.

Does the math add up to remove Sanjrani?

Section 11 of rules of procedure and conduct of business in the Senate-2012 explains the procedure as to how the chairman and the deputy chairman can be removed from their office.

“(1) Not less than one-fourth of the total membership of the house may give to the Secretary notice in writing of a motion for leave to move a resolution under Article 61 read with paragraph (c) of clause (7) of Article 53 of the Constitution for the removal from office of the chairman or the deputy chairman and the secretary shall forthwith circulate the notice to the members. The chairman or, as the case may be, the deputy chairman shall not preside over a sitting of the Senate in which a resolution for his removal from office is fixed for consideration. Voting on the resolution shall be by secret ballot which shall be held in such manner as the presiding officer may direct. The chairman or, as the case may be, deputy chairman shall stand removed from his office on the resolution being passed by a majority of the total membership of the Senate.”

This means that support of 53 members is required to remove the Senate chairman.

Currently, the PPP, PML-N, NP and JUI-F have 46 members in the Senate, while there are 29 independent senators — many of whom are PML-N members who were not allowed to contest on a party ticket. The Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PMAP) has two members, while the Awami National Party (ANP) has one member. The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has 14 members. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has five and Jamaat-i-Islami (JIP) has two senators.

The opposition in the Senate, therefore, is in a comfortable position to remove the Senate chairman and bring in a replacement of its choice — if there is no rift within party ranks on the matter.