LAHORE   -   The united opposition on Wednesday elected Hamza Shehbaz Sharif as the new Punjab chief minister during a symbolic session held at a local hotel.

Following the closure of the Punjab Assembly for the Assembly members to attend an Assembly sitting called by Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari at 7:30 pm, the Opposition decided to hold the meeting at Faletti’s hotel in a unique way to show its numerical strength.  Members of Jahangir Tareen and Aleem Khan groups were in attendance.

Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari had called the session at 7;30 pm in supersession of his earlier orders of holding it on April 16. Since the Assembly secretariat under instructions from the Speaker Parvez Elahi did not issue a gazette notification of the deputy speaker’s order and later also got a no-trust motion tabled against him, he was not allowed to hold and chair the session.

Dost Mazari termed the speaker’s action illegal and turned up at the main entrance of the Assembly at the given time. But he returned after a while as the police had cordoned off the Assembly building from all sides. Nobody except the PTI workers and its legislators could enter the Assembly.

The joint opposition comprising the PML-N and the PPP had earlier decided to force their entry into the Assembly to attend the session, but they changed their plan at the last moment and gathered at the Faletti’s hotel.

They held a mock Assembly session with the Panel of Chairman Shazia Abid in the chair. The Opposition members insisted that this session had been held on the directions of the Supreme Court which had ruled earlier in the day that deputy speaker could hold the session even at Bagh-e-Jinnah if the Assembly building had been closed.

The hall of the hotel where the meeting took place had a space for a press gallery, and the speaker’s box. Maryam Nawaz Sharif and other guests sat at the speaker’s box to watch the ‘proceeding’.

Iqbal Gujar of the PML-N moved a motion for voting for the election of chief minister and the Panel of chairman initiated the voting process. She asked the members to rise in their seats who wanted to vote for Hamza Shehbaz.  After the count, she declared that 199 assembly members had voted for Hamza Shehbaz Sharif.  The magic figure to elect a chief minister in the Punjab Assembly is 168. None of the members voted in favor of Ch Parvez Elahi.

Meanwhile, senior PML-Q leader Ch Moonis Elahi took jibes at Hamza Shehbaz Sharif over his election as chief minister in a symbolic Punjab Assembly session held at Faletti’s hotel on Wednesday night. In a tweet, Moonis congratulated Hamza Shehbaz on his ‘election’ and called him a “Faletti’s hotel CM”.