Deposed Raja readies to take on Punjab govt
LAHORE, March 2: Former senior minister in the provincial cabinet Raja Riaz on Wednesday submitted an application with Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal to seek his nomination as leader of the opposition.
The PPP leader moved another application to seek seats for his party MPAs on opposition benches.
The PPP had been junior partner in the PML-N led coalition ruling the province until Monday last when the senior partner sent it packing.
As the PML-Q, including its break-away Unification Bloc, has 81 representatives in the house compared with 108 of the PPP, its leader Chaudhry Zaheeruddin resigned as opposition leader from the office and informed the speaker about his decision by telephone.
Duly signed by 108 MPAs, Raja Riaz submitted an application to Rana Iqbal, requesting the chair to notify him as the opposition leader since he represented the majority opposition party.
The Raja was accompanied by former (PPP) cabinet colleagues Haji Ishaq Ahmed, Tanveer Ashraf Kaira and Farooq Yousuf Ghurki.
The would-be opposition leader also sought allocation of seats on the opposition benches for the PPP MPAs.
The speaker told him that a decision on replacing the opposition leader would be taken before the next assembly session due next week.
Rana Iqbal told the media that Chaudhry Zaheer had informed him by phone that he was stepping down as the opposition leader.
The chair said there would be no constitutional bar on (Unification Bloc leader) Dr Tahir Ali Javed and colleagues if they decided to vote for the PML-N at any ‘difficult’ time.
Raja Riaz, however, resolved that his party would not allow horse trading in Punjab.
Raja Riaz would replace PML-Q’s Chaudhry Zaheer as opposition leader and both belong to Faisalabad district.
Raja Riaz was nominated as opposition leader by PPP Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari. In the 2002-07 Punjab Assembly, the PPP had Qasim Zia as opposition leader who gave a tough time to the treasury. Only the time will tell if Raja Riaz can meet or beat the performance of Qasim Zia.
Meanwhile, senior members of the Unification Bloc held a meeting at the CM’s Secretariat on 90-The Mall to discuss legal hindrances in their joining the treasury benches.
Senior officers of the law department as well as Punjab Assembly reportedly also joined the meeting.
The PPP has nominated MPAs Zulfiqar Gondal and Shaukat Basra as its parliamentary and deputy parliamentary leader in the Punjab Assembly.