LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has snubbed Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz for claiming the support of the PML-Q lawmakers in Punjab, saying the party’s parliamentarians will support Chaudhry Parvez Elahi (if the run-off election for the chief minister’s office is held).
“Parvez Elahi is our candidate for the chief minister and PML-Q MPAs will vote for him,” Shujaat said in a statement in response to reports that Hamza and his party (PML-N) members were claiming that the PML-Q MPAs would vote for him (Hamza) in case the court orders run-off election.
The Lahore High Court on Tuesday also hinted at holding fresh election for the Punjab chief minister’s office.
Apparently addressing Hamza, Shujaat further said: “Do not try to mislead any of our MPAs by spreading rumours. PML-Q MPAs have always adhered to the party discipline and they will support Parvez Elahi,” he said.
PML-Q chief’s statement came in the backdrop of the differences emerging between him, his sons and the Elahi camp. But, Shujaat chose to put his weight behind his cousin despite his son Salik Hussain being part of the federal government led by the PML-N.
Differences among the Chaudhrys family started surfacing when the ruling coalition, spearheaded by the PML-N and the PPP, approached the PML-Q back in February with a ‘lucrative offer’-- the chief minister’s office, ministries both in the Centre and Punjab and future seat adjustments (with PML-N) in exchange for withdrawing their support for the then premier Imran Khan and voting him out through a no-confidence motion.
As Elahi and Wajahat, and their sons -- MNAs Moonis Elahi and Hussain Elahi, respectively, preferred to maintain their alliance with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Shujaat’s sons -- Salik and Shafay -- chose to side with the ruling coalition along with two other party MNAs. MNA Salik Hussain has also been inducted into Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s cabinet.
Their relations further deteriorated recently when Wajahat Hussain alleged that Shujaat’s sons had sought monetary benefits (dollars) from the PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari for supporting the PML-N’s coalition government. Shujaat, however, rejected the allegations, demanding an apology from Wajahat.
Meanwhile, Mr Hamza has directed the lawmakers supporting him to remain in Lahore in case the court orders a run-off election for the CM office.
Mr Elahi said they (PTI and PML-Q) were ready to defeat Hamza in case run-off election was announced.
The Punjab Assembly’s current strength is 346 members after 25 PTI MPAs were de-seated by the Election Commission for voting for Hamza. The PTI has 158 lawmakers, its ally PML-Q 10, the PML-N 165, PPP seven, five independents and one of Rah-i-Haq Party. The PTI may get five more seats after the LHC directed the Election Commission to notify five reserved seats in favour of PTI.
Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2022