The road to Islamabad goes through Punjab and victory in Punjab is considered victory in the center.
In general elections 2013, PML-N managed to win most of the urban and rural constituencies of Southern and Northern areas of Punjab and also showed dominance in the center. PML-N won 116 seats out of 148 in the parliament. Now, Punjab has 141 seats in National assembly even after losing seven seats following new delimitation of constituencies.
Political parties play a key role in elections on nearby 50 urban constituencies but have no say in remaining 91 rural constituencies. The electoral process in these rural areas is not as completely democratic as it is supposed to be. The vote of the people living here doesn’t decide the outcome of elections but there are the feudal, capitalist and influential electable who actually influence the results of the ballot box.
PML-N, PTI, and other political parties compete for elections in urban constituencies on the mere basis of popularity, not previous performances. The rules of the battleground of elections are totally different in rural areas and the real battle will take place in these constituencies.
Moreover, it is the Southern Punjab with 41 seats of National assembly, that could declare who is going to be in power. Once PPP was the largest and most popular party in Punjab and now it is not even the shadow of what it was in the past. PTI and PML-N are now considered the mainstreams political parties that are going to lock horns in these areas. But its also not PML-N or PTI, the real power lies with some local groups and the electable who play a key role in elections in rural areas.
It was considered foolish to even think that some other mainstream political party could conquer PML-N’s stronghold in Punjab. Even before Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif in Panama case, PML-N was in a strong position here. But it looks like everything has changed now. The way the electables are joining PTI is enough for one to believe PML-N is not going to enjoy effortless dominance in upcoming elections.
Panama case verdict, NAB corruption cases of Sharif family, Nawaz Sharif’s confrontation against National institutes and controversial statements are being reported to be main reasons behind such immense switching of loyalties. But it is also being said that these electables are being forced to bid farewells to PML-N. However, whatever the driving force is behind this, the fact remains that PML-N is facing major setbacks just before elections.
A number of PML-N defectors from southern Punjab have already joined PTI. If they managed to win half of the 41 seats in southern Punjab it will not only decide the fate of PML-N but also it will help in the formation of the government. Recently, an influential politician Sardar Ghulam Abbas from Chakwal left PMLN. He told media that he is not anymore in this condition to defend Nawaz Sharif on his recent controversial statement regarding 26/11 attacks. In his press talk, he further said it would be hard to run the election campaign with such Anti-state statement.
Ghulam Abbas was the person who managed to win more than 22 seats on the basis of his influence in local body elections. In Faisalabad, big political names likes Ghulam Rasool Sahi and Nisar Jutt have already parted ways with Nawaz led PML-N. Ghulam Rasool Sahi gave his resignation to party. He said declaring Pakistan a terror-funding state and then rejecting declaration of National security committee is no more than a shameful act of Nawaz Sharif.
More than 10 PML-N disgruntled members joined Imran Khan’s team in Jhang. It is being considered a splendid victory for PTI. PTI Joining of renowned political figures like Ghulam Bibi Bharwana who has been Member of Parliament since 2002, is continuously fading out the possibility for PML-N of getting into power again. Raza Hayat Hiraj and Mian Mazhar from Khanewal, Mian Tariq Mehmood from Gujranwala, Ramesh Kumar, Bilal Virk from Nankana Sahib, Rana Umer Nazir from Kamonke are those limelight politicians who have just knocked bells of Bani Gala seeking Imran Khan’s fellowship. Despite aforementioned joining, there is a long list of those who are gearing up to give some more political upsets to PML-N.
Some in the list of senior analysts are terming these electables the political birds who like to fly here and there during election season. According to them, these rural and feudal electables are avaricious for power. But in the same way it is also recognized fact that PML-N itself welcomed more than 41 electables who had joined Nawaz Sharif after enjoying parliamentary term under Q-league reign.
Nawaz Sharif’s narrative, however, is clear and it seems he is not going to review it. But it is being said that it is the time for Shehbaz Sharif and rest of party leaders to choose the path on which they will cover their rest of political journey.
And in this entire saga, things are heating up before elections and PTI seems dominant in Punjab.