Sadiq Sanjrani, the current Senate chairman, will once again contest the election for chairmanship of the upper house of parliament as the ruling party's candidate.
Minister for Information Shibli Faraz on Thursday tweeted that Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced Sanjrani for Senate chairmanship.
Earlier, sources had said many party members did not want to see Sanjrani again as Senate chairman and wanted the party leadership to nominate a genuine party activist or member for the coveted slot. Political experts have cautioned that if the PTI insisted on Sanjrani’s nomination, it could face a similar situation which it faced in the election on the Senate seat from Islamabad after nominating Abdul Hafeez Shaikh against Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani.
On the other hand, they believed if the PTI did not back Sanjrani, then this act would annoy the Balochistan Awami Party, which is now the fourth largest party in the Senate and second largest party after the PTI in the ruling alliance.
Blow to the govt in Senate
The much-hyped Senate election process was completed a day earlier after which all eyes are now set on the coming election for the key offices of chairman and deputy chairman of the upper house.
After staging an upset in the Senate elections, the opposition parties have managed to retain their majority in the upper house of parliament and are now hopeful of getting the top offices of chairman and deputy chairman for which elections through secret balloting will be held on March 12.
As expected, a hung Senate emerged on 37 seats of the upper house of parliament as the opposition and the ruling alliances now have 53 and 47 members, respectively, in the (now) 100-member Senate.
Hours after the ruling coalition’s candidate Finance Minister Shaikh suffered defeat at the hands of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)'s joint candidate Gilani in a major upset, the government announced that Prime Minister Imran would seek a vote of confidence afresh from the National Assembly.
Rejected votes played a significant role in the upset with Gilani securing 169 votes as against 164 bagged by Shaikh, as the number of rejected votes exceeded the margin of victory.
PDM yet to officially announce candidate
Though the PDM has not formally announced its candidates for the two offices, several leaders, including PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, have hinted that Gilani would be the joint candidate for the office of Senate chairman.
Besides the two top Senate offices, the opposition parties are also yet to decide the next opposition leader in the Senate as present opposition leader Raja Zafarul Haq, who is among 52 retiring senators, has not contested the election this time. Moreover, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is no more the largest opposition party in the house and, therefore, technically speaking, it cannot have a claim on the position of the opposition leader.
However, sources said, if the PDM decided to nominate Gilani as the candidate for the Senate chairman’s office, then the PML-N or Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl — the other two major components of the PDM — could demand nomination of their candidates for the offices of deputy chairman and opposition leader.
Sanjrani was elected to the Senate as an independent candidate in the March 3, 2018 elections for the upper house of parliament and was sworn in as Senate chairman later that month after he secured 57 votes out of the total 103 cast for the seat, defeating the PML-N's Raja Zafarul Haq.
He was the first-ever Senate chairman from Balochistan.
In July 2019, the opposition had submitted a resolution of no-confidence against Sanjrani as a first-step towards mounting pressure on the PTI-led coalition government.
However, Sanjrani survived the no-trust vote after 14 lawmakers from the opposition ditched their party leadership by either voting against their own resolution or deliberately wasting their votes.