Friendly opposition inspires ‘CM’s confidence’
LAHORE, June 9: Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif appeared to be a ‘confident man’ when he walked into the house on Saturday, knowing that opposition PPP and PML-Q legislators would act as they were not present in the all important budget session.
The PPP and PML-Q had reportedly told the PML-N in the business advisory committee that the opposition had no intention to protest during the budget session as they had instructions from their leadership.
“Tell the chief minister that not a single opposition member will hoot him in the house and finance minister’s speech will be free from any interruption,” a PPP legislator told Dawn.
Shahbaz rarely visited the house during his four-year tenure. And during his few (around 20) appearances (in the house) he appeared uncomfortable because of opposition’s ‘unruly’ behaviour.
Some of the members of PPP and PML-Q, especially the outspoken women, did not like the idea of being a ‘silent spectator’ during Saturday’s session and asked their parliamentary leaders to allow them to put up a ‘little show’. However, the women got a snub from them, the PPP MPA said. “It is the order of President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani not to hold any protest during the budget session,” PPP parliamentary leader Raja Riaz was quoted as having said.
PPP and PML-Q members were so careful during the session that it appeared that no opposition legislator was present in the house. It boosted the confidence of Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman who got finance minister’s portfolio a day before his important budget speech. The pitch of his voice was considerably high as it sounded that he was addressing a public gathering.
It was a rare occasion to watch the opposition helpless in the face of the directive of their leadership. PPP’s diehard activist Sajida Mir, Nargis Faiz and Rifat Sultana gagged their mouths, leaving the spectators guessing whether they were protesting against their own leadership for not allowing them to speak against the PML-N in the house or it was one of the silent ways to protest.
During the parliamentary committee meeting before the start of the session, Raja Riaz told members to hold protest against Shahbaz Sharif outside the assembly and vent their anger on him, but act as a friendly opposition inside the house.
PPP legislators followed the instruction and held an anti-Shahbaz demonstration outside the assembly minutes before the start of the session. They declared Shahbaz ‘insane’ in chorus and said “Ali Baba is a pious man, while 40 thieves are roaming in Punjab.”
Soon after conclusion of the budget session, Raja Riaz and Tanvir Ashraf Kaira took the credit for being a ‘democratic and decent opposition’. “Unlike the PML-N, we respect democratic norms. This is a difference between Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari’s politics. The Sharifs have undemocratic mindset that is often reflected in their protest, especially in the National Assembly during the budget session, but we always have acted in a democratic way,” Riaz said.