A day after former prime minister Imran Khan changed his mind and agreed to put off the vote of confidence that he insisted the Punjab chief minister must take before Jan 11, it appears Parvez Elahi is unlikely to go ahead with the exercise when proceedings of the 42nd session of the provincial assembly resume on Monday (today) — if the day’s agenda issued by the assembly secretariat is anything to go by.
However, the opposition parties, led by the PML-N, are set to show their power in the house.
The 11th sitting of the session, which began on Oct 23, 2022, will be held at 2pm when the assembly meets after a break of 16 days. Speaker Sibtain Khan will chair the proceedings.
The agenda for the session issued by the assembly secretariat on Sunday excludes the process for vote of confidence to be taken by Mr Elahi, as had been directed by Governor Balighur Rehman.
It says five bills will be introduced, while the Public Sector Universities (Amendment) Bill 2022 will be reconsidered and passed, as well as written queries from members about the school education department taken up during the session.
The governor had on Dec 19 declared that in his opinion the chief minister did not enjoy the support of a majority of the house so the latter must take a vote of confidence after 48 hours on Dec 21, and directed that a sitting of the assembly be summoned for the purpose.
Opposition to discuss strategy in pre-session meeting
When Mr Elahi defied the direction, the governor de-notified the CM, who then challenged the action in the Lahore High Court.
The court issued a stay order against the de-notification and fixed Jan 11 as the next date for hearing the case.
The PTI, part of the ruling coalition in Punjab along with Mr Elahi’s PML-Q, had decided the CM should take the vote of confidence before the court hearing so he could dissolve the assembly as soon as the LHC decided the case in his favour.
The speaker even rescheduled the assembly session accordingly from Jan 11 to Jan 9 as PTI Chairman Imran Khan was bent upon dissolving the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies at the earliest to press the federal government to announce early general elections.
As the opposition claimed to have made inroads into the ruling Punjab coalition and poached some ruling lawmakers to achieve a majority in the house, Mr Elahi decided not to take the trust vote, arguing the governor’s order to the effect was illegal and unconstitutional.
The chief minister also eventually managed to convince Mr Khan against it, who had directed his party’s MPAs to resign en masse if Mr Elahi didn’t take the vote as per plan.
They both agreed that the trust vote would be taken only if the court directed to do so.
However, the opposition PML-N and PPP have decided to show their power when the assembly resumes its proceedings, as a meeting of the parliamentary party has been convened two hours before Monday’s session.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Attaullah Tarar says Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique will chair the meeting. The opposition MPAs have been directed to stay in Lahore until further directions so they are available if and when their presence is needed in the house.