Asif Zardari eyes top slot in upcoming Senate polls

Asif Zardari eyes top slot in upcoming Senate polls
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PPP co-chairman shifts from Lahore protest to Senate polls

Hopes to clinch three Senate seats from Balochistan, banking on PML-N rebels

Sindh to provide lion’s share as Zardari eyes nine seats

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari has shifted his focus from Model Town protest to the Senate elections, informing his party colleagues that the party would be able to clinch a lion’s share in the Senate polls from Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab assemblies—which would open the doors to win the Senate chairman slot.
However, Zardari needs a miracle to materialise this dream because all odds are against his party, which had suffered a major beating in the last elections held in May 2013, as ground realities contradict claims made by the PPP leaders.
On the contrary, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has a fair chance to clinch the top Senate slot in the upcoming elections of the Senate.
Though the PPP chief may be able to win 8-9 Senate seats from Sindh, the numerical strength of the party reflects that the ruling party in Sindh may not be able to win a single seat from Balochistan and Punjab assemblies.
However, the party may be able to clinch a solitary seat from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) if it manages to borrow at least five votes from like-minded parties—a huge task by all means.
Interestingly, while the PPP does not have a single lawmaker in Balochistan Assembly, the party leaders claim that Zardari has been able to rope in some rebels from the PML-N and PML-Q, who would vote for PPP’s nominees in Senate polls.
Well-placed sources in the PPP have informed Pakistan Today that the party has already geared up its preparations for the upcoming Senate elections and the party has sought applications from aspirants of Senate elections.
“Each applicant would have to submit Rs50,000 fee for Senate election, and the applicants would have to submit this fee along with their application with the party offices,” the source said, adding that the party chief would decide tickets for the Senate elections after interviewing the applicants.
When contacted, PPP’s senior leader Salim Mandviwala confirmed that the party had geared up its campaign to win majority seats in the Senate election. The PPP leader said that the party was awaiting the election commission to announce a schedule on February 2.
Asked how the PPP can win seats from Balochistan, Punjab or KP—where the party’s numerical strength was nominal—Mandviwala said he could not share the party’s strategy.
“For the time being, what I can assure you is the fact that we will maintain our majority in the Senate. We have a strategy and we are working on it. We have started to receive the applications from the party leaders, but there is no last date for these applications. We will receive the applications until the last day before the elections,” he added.
AITZAZ, RABBANI, BABAR MAY NOT BE ALLOCATED SENATE TICKETS:
The source said that the party plans to give an opportunity to a majority of new faces this time around and some old faces would be sidelined.
“It is highly likely that, despite the fact that the party has a clear-cut strength in Sindh Assembly, Raza Rabbani might not get the party ticket for next election. Similarly, Aitzaz Ahsan would also not be able to get the party ticket, as the party has only eight seats in Punjab Assembly, where a Senator would require at least 44.5 votes to win a seat,” the source said.
The source added that Farhatullah Babar might also not get a party ticket from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), where the party has only six MPAs.
According to estimates, each party would require at least eleven votes to win a Senate slot; however, the PPP may bargain with any of the opposition parties to win a seat from KP.
The sources said that it is highly likely that the party may give rest to Farhatullah Babar even if it manages to win a seat.
“Some new face may be allocated the party ticket from KP this time around,” the source said.
It is pertinent to mention here that the party has already accommodated Babar as party’s secretary-general.
From Sindh, where the party has 95 MPAs, the PPP eyes a lion’s share and it is highly likely that the party may win nine seats from Sindh. Each hopeful for Senate election would require at least 15 votes to get elected from Sindh.
The sources said that the party was mulling to eclipse Raza Rabbani, who may be accommodated at some party slot.
“From Sindh, the party plans to field Faryal Talpur for Senate, who would be the party’s candidate for the Senate chairman election. Moreover, since Ms Talpur is not comfortable with party’s senior lot, most of the party’s nominees from Sindh would be new faces—a majority of whom would be from rural Sindh. Some Urdu speaking bigwigs may join the PPP and would be accommodated in the Senate polls,” the source added.
The source said that though the party does not have a single member in Balochistan Assembly, Zardari plans to get at least three Baloch leaders elected to Senate.
“As per the arrangement made with PML-N rebel lawmakers, these hopefuls would be elected on the party ticket or they might be elected as independent Senators who would later join the PPP,” the sources added.
It is important to note that Asif Zardari recently visited Balochistan, where he was hosted by newly elected Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo. Zardari chaired the meeting, which was also attended by some other ministers, who recently rebelled against the PML-N leadership’s decisions.
The PML-N’s leadership—which initially accused the military establishment of engineering the change in province’s chief minister—has also taken a note of the developments taking place in Balochistan.
In an emergent press conference on Friday, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique blamed Zardari for his involvement in horse-trading in Balochistan.
Currently, the PPP is the second biggest party in the Senate, where it has 26 lawmakers. However, out of the total 26 members, 18 would be retiring this March, leaving the party’s strength to eight members.
The ruling PML-N is the leading party with 27 members. Out of these 27, nine members would be retiring this March. This would leave the ruling party with 18 lawmakers.
Therefore, Zardari would have to rely on a miracle to win the top slot in Senate polls.
The PML-Q, on the other hand, would be a major casualty of the upcoming Senate polls, as all its four members would be retiring this March.
 

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