LAHORE, Jan 31: Governor Makhdoom Ahmed Mehmood has been negotiating with a good number of ‘electables’, including PML-Q’s Jaffar Leghari and PML-N’s Salman Mohsin Gilani to bring them into the PPP’s fold.
As PPP central Punjab president Mian Manzoor Wattoo has failed to bring ‘big names’ to the PPP, President Asif Ali Zardari has given Mr Mehmood the task to woo the ‘electables’ of other parties in Punjab.
According to sources in the PPP, Mr Mehmood has been in contact with MNA Jaffar Leghari of DG Khan division and PML-N’s MNA from Pakpattan Salman Mohsin Gilani.
Sources close to the governor told Dawn that Mr Mehmood had personal relations with Jaffar Leghari while Salman Gilani was close to former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani. Salman Gilani has reportedly expressed his willingness to join the PPP while Jaffar Leghari has not given any commitment.
The sources further informed Dawn that two MPAs from Rahim Yar Khan -- Ejaz Shafi (PML-Q forward bloc) and Qazi Ahmed Saeed (PML-F) – had also given their words to Mr Mehmood to join the PPP. Mr Shafi was an aspirant to a Senate ticket but the PML-N had not obliged him. Since Mr Saeed was an MPA of the former party (PML-F) of the governor, he has no issue in shifting loyalties.
The governor at the same time is also persuading Nasrullah Khan Dareshek to contest coming election on the PPP’s platform. Dareshek who also has ties with the Q lost to Jaffar Leghari on NA-174 (Rajanpur). After PML-N’s Saifuddin Khosa’s entry into the PPP, the party may not need Dareshek in case Jaffar defects to it.
The Q leadership had sharply reacted when Wattoo made an effort to bring Dareshek into PPP.
Since the PPP does not have a potential candidate for NA-165 (Pakpattan), it is desperately trying to woo Salman Gilani. Gilani’s relations with the PML-N leadership are not so ideal. He is also not happy over registration of a case against him for holding fake graduation degree. “The PML-N leadership is also aware Gilani may switch loyalties because of his association with Yousuf Raza Gilani,” the PML-N leader said.
Anticipating possible defection of Salman Gilani just before the general election, the PML-N leadership had already tried to persuade PML-Q former MNA, Ahmad Raza Manika, from this constituency considering him a strong candidate in the place of Gilani. However, the Q leadership has already announced awarding him ticket for NA-165.
Since the PPP is in alliance with the PML-Q, both parties will face problems in seat adjustment in case both have potential candidates for same constituencies.
A PML-Q Punjab office-bearer told Dawn that the PPP leaders should not try to ‘work’ on the Q electables. “It is against the spirit of the PPP-Q alliance,” he said, adding neither Jaffar nor Dareshek would go anywhere. Besides, he said MNA Awais Leghari (who at present is in PTI) was also seriously contemplating returning to the Q.
Both Jaffar Leghari and Salman Gilani’s staff promised to return the calls of this correspondent but they did not.