LAHORE - As the results keep pouring in, the apparent huge victory of ruling PML-N in first phase of local bodies polls in Punjab has lend credence to its claims that the province is its unconquerable political hub.
In the 12 districts of Punjab the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has come up stronger than it was at the time of general elections, a manifestation of public confidence in its government’s performance.
But performance is not the only factor as better availability of electables and many other factors like corruption, greed, bradarism and favouritism play a greater role in our system, all of them usually being more helpful to ruling groups.
The results, so far unofficial, have also set the trend for upcoming two phases of LB polls in the province, and they are expected to undercut PTI’s charges of rigging in the last general elections, though PTI will remain the main PML-N rival in foreseeable future.
The Nawaz League has also clinched seats in Sindh, where it had been wiped out in the recent past.
Another development favourable to PML-N in Punjab is performance of independents, who seems to stand second in the race, as most of them will join hands with the ruling party to make their win more fruitful.
However, observers say, the clear majority of the PML-N does not mean all is well good for it. The traditional urge of party leadership to keep power centralised will be met with resentment at the grass roots level.
The track record shows, the N-League, is accustomed to keep the powers within the handful of favourites and trusted fellows than legitimately sharing it with others.
Through LBs Act, administrative and financial powers as well as that of hire and fire are at the disposal of either the bureaucracy or the chief minister himself. The LB institution has not been given 18 crucial departments while funds releasing for the development schemes is also strictly made through the bureaucracy.
In view of this fact, if the squeezed authority of the local representatives is denied, the consequences may not be good – particularly when our political history is replete with the precedents of turncoats and political groupism.
From that angel, whether LBs have to be made an asset or liability is up to the winning party.
Previously, the PML-N had maintained its general election position in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa LB polls, standing third after PTI and the Independents. So was its performance in Balochistan LB polls.
Thus, the N-League’s main reliance remains on Punjab where it is party is spending maximum development funds to further strengthen its grip.
A successful and good working of the LBs in Punjab can be exploited to set example of public service in other provinces to regain political ground there for which things are more favourable after successful operation against terrorism and extremism and launching of the projects like CPEC.
Observers say that PML-N deftly made use of the follies and deficiencies of the PTI politics.
First of all it kept up a democratic public posture. Moreover, dharna politics, U-turns and foul language used by the PTI leaders against the politics of relative pacification and decency of the N leaders paid the latter dividends.
The news of Imran Khan divorcing Rahem Khan just hours before the election served a big blow to the PTI towards demoralising the voters and encouraging the opponents, though some observers contradict this assessment.
As to Punjab, PTI needs to work harder and reorganise itself particularly in the rural areas. After all, it’s just first phase of the LB election in the province that is over while two more are in the stock.