PESHAWAR - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly will elect a new Deputy Speaker today (Tuesday) to fill the office, which has been lying vacant for the last 14 months.

The seat had fallen vacant after ex-deputy speaker Imtiaz Shahid Qureshi took oath as a provincial minister for law and parliamentary affairs in October 2014. The election of the deputy speaker was delayed time and again reportedly due to the differences within the PTI on nomination of a suitable candidate for the slot.

The filling of the deputy speaker’s office will pave the way for the prorogation of current session of the KP Assembly, which has been continuing since Oct 23, 2014, as under the house’s rules of business, the government is bound to hold elections for the deputy speaker’s office before proroguing the session.

In this connection, the PTI-led ruling coalition alliance also consisting of QWP, AJI and JI has fielded Dr Meher Taj Roghani, while Arbab Akbar Hayat of the PML-N will be the candidate of the joint opposition which also include ANP, PPP and JUI-F.

Sources in the PTI told The Nation that some lawmakers within the ruling the party have expressed reservations over nomination of Meher Taj Roghani for the slot of deputy speaker. However, it is strongly believed that they would not go against they party’s decision in this regard. Roghani’s name for the post has been nominated by the PTI Chairperson Imran Khan and CM Pervez Khattak.

In 124-member house of KP Assembly, the PTI-led coalition enjoys the support of 79 legislators, out of which 56 have been elected on PTI ticket, QWP 10, Jamaat Islami 6, Awami Jamhuri Ittehad 5 and two independents.

Similarly, the joint opposition has the support of 43 MPAs, including PML-16, JUI-F 17, PPP 6 and ANP 5 respectively. Talking to media in provincial assembly, Dr Meher Taj Roghani said that the PTI and its coalition partners have filed five nominations papers for her. The nominations have been filed by Shaukat Yousafzai, Dina Naz, Sardar Suran Singh of PTI, Habib-ur-Rehman of JI and Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli of QWP.

The two nominations of the opposition candidate were filed by Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha of PML-N and Jaffar Shah of ANP. Announcing procedure for the Deputy Speaker poll, Speaker Asad Qaiser told the house that polling will start from 2pm. Efforts will be made to complete the process till 5pm. He urged the members of the provincial assembly to ensure their presence in the house by 2pm.  The polling will be held in the provincial assembly.

Speaker Asad Qaiser has to announce the election schedule of deputy speaker soon after PML-N MPA Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha, almost three week back warned that the opposition would agitate if the long-awaited elections for the deputy speaker’s office were delayed any further.

Meanwhile, the KP Assembly Monday approved the question of the Mufti Said Janan of JUI-F regarding provision of dual incentives to provincial ministers and advisors as chairmen District Development Advisory Board (DDAC) for detail discussion.

In the written reply submitted to the house, the Local Governments Department have acknowledged that the chairmen of three DDACs of Districts Bannu, Buner and Kohistan are included a minister and two advisors to the government and details of their privileges were also mentioned. However, the legislator declined to agree with the provision of these facilities to them and called for referring the matter to the standing committee concerned.

Similarly, the joint opposition staged a walkout of the house to protest the rejection of the privilege motion of an opposition legislator against Executive Engineer (XEN) Public Health Engineering (PHE), District Lakki Marwat.

However, the proceeding of the house was continued and on this occasion, KP Minister for Hajj, Auqaf and Religious Affairs, Habib-ur-Rehman who himself is a chairman DDAC Buner tried to justify the facilities. He said the portfolio of department and post of chairman DDAC is two separate things. Therefore, they are getting these incentives.

He said that on the directives of the distribution of gifts and honouraria has already been stopped and they are not getting it since last 8 to 9 months. Bakht Baidar of QWP, Maulana Fazal Ghafoor of JUI-F and Mohammad Reshad Khan of PML-N also supported the contentions of Mufti Said Janan and called for the referring of the matter to the standing committee. The parliamentary leader of PML-N Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha criticised the provincial government for snatching the post of chairman DDAC, Mansehra from their party legislator.