ISLAMABAD -  The ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) successfully passed the first test of keeping the party intact and united when almost all its parliamentarians voted Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to victory in the prime minister’s election.

Even before the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif there were strong impression of formation of a forward bloc or some defections by the party dissidents who were active since past few months especially they had pushed the ruling PML-N into embarrassment during the budget session by their non-cooperation.

But as anticipated and predicted by the political pundits and senior party leaders, the ruling PML-N kept the party intact and successfully passed the first litmus test when all the party MPs including those dubbed as dissidents stood by the party and voted Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to victory.

The political observers monitoring the dynamics of national politics, particularly in Punjab, said that despite internal rift and annoyance of a large number of party MPs with party policies and the leadership’s indifference toward them, the PML-N does not face any serious threat of defection or formation of some forward bloc in the coming days.

The sources in the party said that for the past several months a group within the ruling PML-N mainly from central and southern Punjab districts developed serious concerns with the party leadership and some key ministers, but all of them were constrained to stay with the party because of their constituency politics, with strings linked to the development projects and for the support they would be requiring for their day-to-day issues directly relating to the Punjab government.

In the recently held parliamentary party meeting just days before the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif individuals like Najaf Sial and Federal Minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada were among those who extended unequivocal support to the prime minister in the difficult time and falsify the impression of some major defections from the party or formation of a forward bloc.

Previously, Sial and other MPs from central and southern Punjab districts claimed that they had backing of some 45 to 50 MPs and were not comfortable with party policies and indifference of the federal cabinet members toward them.

The group was strong enough and had embarrassed the government by managing to break the quorum in the National Assembly during the budget session for several times and even during the winding up speech of the finance minister.

But even going to that extreme these dissidents remained within the party and tried to get their issues resolved by the party leadership because of the dynamics of power politics in the province which was in the strong control of the ruling PML-N for the past well over three decades.

Political analysts said the politics in Punjab was power-centric and it was less about ideological affiliation of the parliamentarians which was amply proved by the shuffling of the electables from one party to another keeping in view their own constituency and personal interests.

In the given scenario as there was no imminent threat to the ruling PML-N to lose the federal and Punjab governments, so the party parliamentarians, even if they have some issues with the party policies and decisions, are constrained to stay with the party because of the power the ruling PML-N wielded both at the federal and the Punjab levels.

Similarly, they would also be lured by massive development grants the prime minister had pledged to them during the last year.

The sources party said the party could face some setback sometime near the next general elections provided the party would fail to deliver on mega development projects and minimising the electricity loadshedding.

The sources in the party informed that the leadership had several options up its sleeves to keep the party MPs intact and now they have decided to bring Shehbaz Sharif in place of Nawaz Sharif and would take the party forward to fortify its position in the Upper House of the Parliament in next March when half of the Senators would retire.

The Senate elections would also be an attraction to some major families in Punjab who wanted to get some of their family members in the Upper House making them sticking to the ruling PML-N till March 2018.

By the time, the government would be able to complete a number of power projects and the power supply position in the plains of the Punjab would be much better by early next year so the party MPs would wait and weigh their options on continuing with the same party or to switch loyalties till that time.