After the much-awaited judgement by the Supreme Court, which ruled that the vote of defecting lawmakers should be discarded, there is much confusion in Punjab.
On April 16, Hamza Shehbaz was elected chief minister.
Shehbaz won against PTI’s candidate Parvez Elahi with 197 votes, but to bag the chief minister’s slot, he had to secure the vote of 25 members of the provincial assembly (MPAs), belonging to the PTI, who crossed the aisle.
If the votes of these 25 PTI MPAs are discounted, in re-election for the chief minister of Punjab, does Shehbaz still emerge victorious?
It’s all in the numbers
At present, PTI and Elahi’s PML-Q have 193 MPAs in the Punjab assembly. Minus from this number the 25 rebels and Elahi is left with 168 votes.
On the other side is Hamza Shehbaz. His party, the PML-N, with the help of the PPP has a total of 173 MPAs. But minus from this the four dissident PML-N MPAs who are unlikely to vote for Shehbaz.
That leaves the current chief minister with 169 votes.
So far Hamza Shehbaz seems to be winning with one vote. Simple enough?
In the 371-member Punjab assembly, there are also four independent MPAs, namely: Chaudhry Nisar, Ahmad Ali Aulakh, Qasim Langah, Bilal Warraich. And then there is chief of his own party, Muavia Azam Tariq.
It is likely that these five men will be one of the deciding factors in the race for chief ministership. But it gets a little more complicated than this.
Down to the wire, again
Of the 25 rebel PTI MPAs who voted for Hamza Shehbaz, five were on reserved seats, as Elahi’s son, Moonis Elahi, recently pointed out on Twitter.
Three MPAs were on seats reserved for women and two on seats for minorities.
Should the Election Commission of Pakistan de-seat the 25 MPAs from PTI, then these five seats can quickly be refilled again by the PTI and PML-Q. This means that these five votes will go to Elahi, putting him in the lead on election day.
There is one more point to consider.
Rules, rules, rules
As per the rules of the Punjab Assembly, the chief minister is elected with a simple majority, therefore 186 votes out of the 371-seat assembly. But if no candidate secures the votes of a majority of the total membership for the assembly in the first round then the second round of voting is held.
In this round, the member who secures the most votes, from amongst the members present that day, will win.
So, how many MPAs will show up on the day of the re-election?