FAISALABAD: Former senior minister and opposition leader in Punjab Raja Riaz Ahmad bade farewell to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and announced joining the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) at its public meeting being held here on May 20.
Talking to Dawn on Friday, Mr Ahmad said he remained attached with the PPP for about 35 years and was leaving it with a heavy heart after having political differences with the leadership.
He said a couple of weeks ago he had addressed a press conference and expressed his reservations which were conveyed to the party leadership, but to no avail.
He said the situation had gone from bad to worse forcing him to say goodbye to the PPP.
Mr Ahmad said he had met PTI chief Imran Khan four or five days back and expressed his willingness to join the party.
“I have taken the decision after taking my supporters into confidence. Now I will announce my affiliation with the PTI on May 20 at its gathering. My voters and supporters will take part in the gathering actively,” he said.
Announces joining PTI at May 20 gathering
Mr Ahmad had been the divisional coordinator of the PPP for years, but most of party leaders and workers were not happy with his political approach as they thought that he was fond of solo flight.
PPP’s former district president Tariq Bajwa said party workers already knew about the departure of Raja Riaz from the party. He said the workers were annoyed with Mr Ahmad who was not loyal with them.
Mr Bajwa said party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had been observing the party incumbents for about three years and Mr Ahmad had to leave because he knew he had no place in the current party set-up.
OUR REPORTER ADDS FROM LAHORE: Playing down Raja Riaz’s decision, the PPP elders claim that petty local politics made the former provincial minister to take the step.
A couple of PPP officials when contacted said that Raja Riaz had petty differences with other local party elders like Rana Aftab and Rana Farooq and perhaps he did not see his future in the party in their presence.
He was also dejected on being ignored in the new organizing committee although he was the former president of the Punjab chapter, they added.
Another party official said in a light vein that since Mr Riaz had already seen his peak in the party by remaining senior Punjab minister as well as opposition leader in the provincial assembly, the ex-MPA from Faisalabad saw that he would not lose much by quitting the PPP in search of `greener pastures’ in the PTI.