Lahore - Notwithstanding the categorical position taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan that Sardar Usman Buzdar is here to stay for long, there is no end to conspiracy theories about a possible change in the Punjab set-up.

One of the rumours swirling around in political circles is that the process of change has already begun with the administrative autonomy given to Punjab Chief Secretary Maj (R) Azam Suleman and IGP Shoaib Dastgir, a development which took place a month back.

Sources privy to the inner-working of the government believe that the Punjab Chief Minister has been left with little say in the administrative matters after this arrangement.  

This new model of governance has been orchestrated to ensure good governance and to silence the voices of change coming from both within and outside the party. For the last six months or so, Prime Minister Imran Khan is constantly under tremendous pressure to bring a new chief minister in Punjab. But he has been resisting the move making slight adjustments in the administrative set up. The present arrangement seems to be the last-ditch effort on his part to avert the inevitable.   

Gossipmongers also say that the new model of governance may not prolong more than two months if it failed to give good results. They see a political change by March or April this year. A new political face wielding command over bureaucracy will be tried as the last option, they say.

Also, the rumour has it that Speaker Punjab Assembly Ch Parvez Elahi has turned down an offer from PM Imran Khan to merge his party with the PTI. Reportedly, this offer was made to the PML-Q leader to make him acceptable for the PTI men keeping in view the prospects of his elevation as the chief minister.

PML-Q’s Spokesperson Kamil Ali Agha says that such a merger with the PTI is out of question. “We are the only genuine Muslim League whose leaders have rendered sacrifices. And we would like to keep our separate identity as a political party,” he told The Nation.

Though he expressed his complete ignorance about any such offer made to the PML-Q leadership, Agha ruled out the possibility of the two parties becoming one.

Though the PML-Q has only ten members in a House of 368 (present strength of Punjab Assembly), Parvez Elahi also enjoys support of as many number of legislators presumably from the PML-N. These lawmakers also voted for him at the time of Speaker’s election in Punjab Assembly after 2018 general elections. 

In this background, there are also reports of backchannel contacts between the PML-N and the PML-Q in the wake of an anticipated change in Punjab. Apparently, the PML-N has taken the initiative to get close to their former allies in a bid to get rid of the PTI from the largest province. Sources said that Parvez Elahi can be acceptable to the PML-N as the chief minister under a power-sharing deal.

A senior PML-Q leader when contacted said that PML-N had made this offer much before at the time of election of the chief minister. This offer still exists, he added.

“But we rejected this offer at that time to honour our commitment with PTI chief Imran Khan. The PML-Q is standing with the Prime minister even today. We will not leave him in lurch. We just want the present Punjab government to deliver on its promises made with the people”, he said.