ISLAMABAD   -    Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leadership launched a search Thursday for the ‘secret rebels’ who helped Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani retain his seat out of nowhere.

Sources told The Nation that the PPP and the PML-N Senators had already handed their resignations to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Shehbaz Sharif.

“The opposition is naturally demoralised but is ready to hit back. There was no way for Sanjrani to win and he did. We are searching for the culprits,” said a close aide of Bilawal.

He said all the PPP senators had handed over resignations to Bilawal and a decision would soon be taken.

PML-N President - opposition leader in the National Assembly - Shehbaz Sharif said that it was “Ameer Tareen’s (richest - referring to Jehangir Tareen) magic that worked in the Senate.”

Earlier, Sanjrani retained his seat as the Senate chairman after only 50 senators voted against him despite 64 senators asking for a vote. The opposition needed at least 53 votes to de-seat Sanjrani.

Speaking to journalists here, Shehbaz Sharif said 64 members stood in favour of the motion, but then 14 votes were not polled. When asked if he saw this as the opposition’s defeat, Shehbaz Sharif said “it is a setback for democracy and that “consciences were sold” in the Senate.”

Bilawal Bhutto said an “attack” took place on the Senate today, denting the country’s democracy. He said democracy suffered due to the “attack” after a no-confidence resolution against Sanjrani failed to receive the 53 votes required for his removal earlier in the day.

The PPP chair vowed to hold those responsible for the failed no-confidence motion. After 64 members voted in favour of tabling the resolution, it should have been passed, he remarked.

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz accused the government of causing defections in opposition camp through intimidation to foil no-confidence motion against Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani.

In a tweet, she said: “It is a shameful act which can’t work every time.” She urged the opposition to snatch their rights. “Until when the Selected will survive,” said the PML-N vice president. She called for the no-confidence motion to be tabled again.

The government had countered the opposition’s no-confidence motion with a motion of its own against Senate Deputy Chairperson Salim Mandviwala, who was backed by the opposition.

Mandviwala was also able to retain his post as only a minority  cast against him.

Close aides of the PPP and the PML-N leadership told The Nation that unless the opposition takes ‘revenge’ they will not come out of the “shock.”

Some opposition members believe the government had give them a chance to launch a movement by ‘horse trading’ in the senate.

“The two parties are in contact at the highest level. There will be some big announcement soon,” said one lawmaker.