LAHORE: The 15 party MPAs, who earlier made headlines in January last for being ignored in development funds allocation, have again attracted party leadership attention.

They questioned the most development funds allocation for Chief Minister Usman Buzdar’s constituency and all around.

At that time, the chief minister met and assured them that they would be given due development funds.

This time, the party leadership only came to know about their resentment when the group did not attend the parliamentary party meeting, which Mr Buzdar called ahead of the Punjab Assembly budget session.

“We did not attend the parliamentary party meeting to express resentment over the government’s failure to execute any development work in our constituencies,” an MPA told Dawn and added that this soft resentment at least helped them to face their voters.

This time, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Syed Zulfiqar Bukhari met the 15 MPAs in Lahore.

“I have met the disgruntled MPAs, listened to their grievances and will report to the chief minister as well as the prime minister,” Mr Bukhari confirmed.

About rumours that he was lobbying for his cousin Syed Yawar Abbas Bukhari for a top slot in Punjab, Mr Bukhari denied any such move and added, “There is only one chief minister and he will remain there for next three years.”

Though Mr Bukhari refused to divulge in MPAs’ concerns, an MPA told Dawn that the new budget offered no development schemes for their constituencies that were primarily located in backward areas.

Another MPA said Mr Bukhari told them that they would be offered development funds soon and added in the same breath that the government was facing severe shortage of development funds due to the coronavirus pandemic and stressed out economic conditions in the country. “The government will allocate MPAs development funds from block allocations so that they satisfy their voters,” Mr Bukhari was quoted as saying.

The 15 MPAs, who met Mr Bukhari, are: Khawaja Daud and Mohiuddin Khosa from Dera Ghazi Khan; Shahabuddin Khan from Layyah; Ghazanfar Abbas and Amir Inayat Shahni

from Bhakkar; Ejaz Sultan Bandesha and Ali Raza Khakwani from Vehari; Bilal Asghar Warraich from Toba Tek Singh; Ghazanfar Qureshi from Jhang; Taimoor Ali Lali from Chiniot; Faisal Farooq Cheema and Ali Asghar Khan Lahry from Sargodha; Ahsan Jahangir Bhatti from Hafizabad; Gulraiz Afzal Chan from Mandi Bahauddin and Ejaz Khan from Rawalpindi.

An MPA told Dawn that most of the MPAs told Mr Bukhari that they needed development funds to complete their ongoing schemes,initiated by the last government.

He said that there was a lack of education and health facilities in backward constituencies.

“We made tall claims and promises with people in pre-election public meetings and now is the time to fulfill those promises,” another MPA said.

“If the chief minister is spending lots and lots of development funds on his constituency, we have all the right to demand funds for our constituencies.” The chief minister has started meeting MPAs in his chamber in the local hotel, where the Punjab Assembly session was in progress, and assuring them that their problems would be resolved.Mr Buzdar says the past injustices would be rectified and ongoing development projects be completed on a priority basis as development was the right of every citizen.

Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2020