Has PPP leadership written off Punjab?
The PPP needs to revise its strategy if it is really keen to stage a comeback in Punjab. Making unrealistic announcements only to find that these are unachievable and then going back on them has harmed the party’s credibility. The party leadership cannot afford to take battle to Punjab and then disappear from the political scene for weeks. Announcing a political campaign that was supposed to end only with the termination of the PML-N government and then forgetting about it has not helped those who were assigned the task to revive the party. Uninspiring demands like the revival of Parliament’s national security committee, acceptance of the PPP’s bill on Panama Papers, implementing the resolutions passed at the multiparty conference on CPEC, and appointing a full-time foreign minister may constitute fit subjects for parliamentary debate but would fail to mobilise the general public.
After the 2013 electoral debacle the PPP leadership promised to revitalize the party in Punjab. The reorganisation of the party under a new and energetic leadership was supposed to be the first step in the direction. After three years the Punjab party still remains dysfunctional. Bilawal has yet to interview candidates for party posts from all the districts. The PPP, we are told, would soon announce a new date for the public meeting in Multan along with the schedule for other upcoming rallies to press its four demands.
Bilawal has to realise that bluster cannot replace consistent hard work needed to reorganise the party. While the Bhutto family charisma may still work in Sindh, the PPP has wasted away much of the residue of goodwill it still possessed in other provinces including Punjab during its 2008-2013 tenure characterised by bad governance and complete indifference to people’s problems. The PPP leadership no doubt faces security threats but it cannot realistically expect the PML-N government which it considers its principal target to provide it the level of security meant for the Prime Minister. Bilawal has to find out imaginative ways of meeting the challenge instead of continuously harping on the theme.