ISLAMABAD: In the battle to woo independent MPAs-elect in Punjab, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) seems to have gained the upper ground over its arch-rival Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) after nine of them decided to join it, sources said Sunday.
The PML-N has emerged as the largest party in Punjab with 129 seats, the PTI at number two with 123 members-elect, PML-Q (8), PPP (6) and independents have achieved 28 seats in the directly elected house of 297.
At least 149 (directly elected) MPAs are required to form a government. With the addition of 66 women on reserved seats and eight minorities, at least 185 members are required to form a government.
With the joining of the independent MPAs-elect, the PTI tally in the Punjab Assembly has reached 132.
The PTI had refused to give those independent MPAs-elect party tickets to contest the July 25 general elections.
The sources said PTI Punjab President Abdul Aleem Khan and former secretary general Jahangir Tareen met the candidates and convinced them to join the party.
The candidates, who joined the PTI include Muhammad Salman Naeem from PP-217, Tahir Randhawa (PP-280), Rafaqat Ali Gillani (PP-284), Basit Sultan Bukhari (PP-272) and Almadar Abbas from PP-277 in Muzaffargarh.
Similarly, independent candidate from Muzaffargarh Abdul Hayi Dasti from PP-270 also joined the PTI.
On Saturday, a recount of ballot papers dramatically changed the result of PP-270 in favour of Dasti and he declared the winner with 17 votes.
Earlier in the official results, Awami Raj Party candidate Ajmal Chandia was declared successful. Then the victory margin was 39 votes, which prompted Dasti to approach the returning officer for a recount and his move paid him well.
Moreover, Hussain Jahaniyan Gardezi from PP-204, Khawar Ali Shah from PP-203 and Hanif Pitafi from PP-289 also joined the PTI.
The sources revealed that all those independent MPAs-elect are those for whom Tareen had struggled to get the PTI ticket before the general elections.
However, on the insistence of Shah Mahmood Qurehsi, tickets were awarded to other candidates.
The new PTI MPAs said they had promised the people of their constituencies that they would join the PTI after winning the elections.
Muhammad Salman Naeem said, “I support Imran Khan and can never sell my loyalty to anyone else,” adding, “I will accept any position from Imran Khan and will follow his instructions.”