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Politics is a dirty game: Heavy dice loaded against former ruling party PML

Politics is a dirty game: Heavy dice loaded against former ruling party PML
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The dice is now more heavily loaded against the former ruling party The result seems already certain before the polls But the game is not over yet The...

The dice is now more heavily loaded against the former ruling party. The result seems already certain before the polls. But the game is not over yet. The latest defections, engineered or otherwise, have virtually wiped out the PML(N)’s prospects in the coming elections in south Punjab and made it more difficult for the party to defend its bastion along the Grand Trunk Road.

Politics is a dirty game but it has gotten dirtier with the “angels” getting into the act. Surely, the last-minute rejection of the PML(N) ticket by the candidates was a well-calculated move by not giving enough time to the party to put up alternative candidates.

The allegation about the role of security agencies in engineering the revolt is not entirely baseless, though there may be some other factors too behind the defections. The increasing number of electable independent candidates has reinforced conspiracy theories about “managed” elections.

Those standing independent not only include defectors from the mainstream parties but also members of some religious outfits like the Milli Muslim League, an offshoot of the banned Jamat-ud-Dawa, that has been refused registration by the Election Commission. The squeeze may have weakened the PML(N), yet it cannot push the party out of contention. The election scene still remains murky less than three weeks to polling day.

Surely, the PML(N) candidates’ exodus has given a further boost to the PTI that has put its entire stake into the turncoats jumping onto its bandwagon. Unlike in 2013, when the party’s main power base was the youth, Imran Khan is now looking towards the pirs for their blessings.

It is evident that the long absence of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam from the country has seriously affected the PML(N) election campaign. The internal squabble over the ticket allocations and the defections have caused creeping demoralisation among the supporters.

In the absence of his older brother, Shahbaz Sharif has effectively taken charge of the party. But he has failed miserably to motivate the party supporters. As his reputation as a good administrator, his uncharismatic persona cannot lift the party up. His politically unsavvy remarks during his recent trip to Karachi put the party in an extremely embarrassing situation.

As party president, Shahbaz is seeking a vote on the performance of his government in the province rather than on the anti-establishment agenda being pursued by the elder Sharif. While most PML(N) candidates would like Nawaz to return home and lead the election campaign.

For them, the policy of confrontation can only divide the party and spoil its chances to return to power. The latest defections of candidates have reinforced this argument.

While there is no option for Nawaz but to come back at the earliest to keep himself politically alive, his presence is likely to sharpen the contradiction within the party between the two opposing positions.

The PML(N) leaders believe that Shahbaz’s reconciliation offer could provide a way out of this situation. It is quite evident that the establishment will not agree to anything less than the former PM leaving politics. There is no resolution of the crisis in sight, which renders the second democratic transition extremely controversial.

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