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LAHORE, March 3: Still in a state of shock and confusion after losing a secure Senate seat from Punjab on Friday, the provincial leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party is groping in the dark to find reasons behind the defeat of diehard party activist Aslam Gill.

All emphasis is on pinpointing ‘traitors’ within the party ranks while entirely ignoring the (mis)calculations primarily responsible for the setback.

PPP parliamentary leader Maj Zulfiqar Gondal (retired), deputy parliamentary leader Shaukat Basra and Opposition Leader in Punjab Assembly Raja Riaz held several ‘brainstorming’ sessions to reach the conclusion of writing to party co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari for seeking his permission to unearth the defectors through an inquiry.

Although the three would not state anything about the communiqué immediately dispatched to President Zardari on Saturday, senior party officials privy to the development say the letter suggests no procedure(s) for the inquiry and simply seeks permission for holding an inquiry to find the five black sheep among the party’s provincial parliamentary party that caused the electoral debacle.

The procedure(s), they say, will be chalked out after getting the leadership’s consent for the proposed probe as so far they are facing confusion and bewilderment.

However, an official claims if allowed, the Punjab leadership will ask at least the ‘suspect’ voters to declare on oath that they had cast their ballot in line with the party instructions.

Basra alleges that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif used provincial coffers to win loyalties of some PPP MPAs. But he will neither give names of these defectors nor describe the mode of payment for this ‘horse-trading’.

Talking to a couple of reporters here, he explained that Gill could not get vote in the second priority count because there was no spillover vote in the first priority required for considering a candidate in the second count.

He would not admit it as a blunder of the PPP strategists for the Senate polls who, despite reports of defections, relied solely on ‘apparent loyalties’ of the party MPAs by allotting the minimum required votes (47) each to both the candidates -- Babar Awan and Aslam Gill. So there was no spillover vote to take Gill into the second priority count.

The PML-N has, contrary to it, adopted a better strategy. It got polled maximum number of votes for each of the four party nominees in the race for Senate’s general seats to overcome the loss likely to be caused by feared defections. The over and above the 47 votes were thus transferred to Mohsin Leghari, second priority of the party’s MPAs although he had been elected on a PML-Q ticket from Dera Ghazi Khan in the 2008 elections.

The N League had been in the hunt for Kamil Ali Agha, the PML-Q nominee, to prick the Chaudhries of Gujrat who lead this faction of the League. But, unluckily, Gill fell a victim instead.

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