LAHORE - Different power groups in the PPP are emerging in the absence of PPP-P President Asif Ali Zardari who is less likely to return in the near future.

It is actually a struggle to get close to the top leadership to influence its decisions, but eventually leading to divisions among the lower cadres.

Allegations of being disloyal to the party are being labelled against each other. A particular group has been termed ‘gang of four’ by the opponents, while for some they are the ‘saner voices’ within the PPPP.

Bilawal himself witnessed the emerging discord among the party men during his last visit to Lahore. Two party men indulged in verbal brawl in his presence levelling allegations against each other. They were Bashir Riaz and Nadeem Afzal Chan.

For the first time, party men saw an otherwise cool tempered Bilawal expressing his annoyance over the situation. “I know who is who and what is what. I know who is with the party and who is not. I don’t need to learn it from you guys,” he remarked and asked them to remain silent.

Names of Syed Khurshid Shah, Sherry Rehman and Qamar Zaman Kaira are also circulating in the party circles as the leaders who want to see themselves in the leading roles more than any other. Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo and Makhdum Ahmad Mehmood are two other names from Punjab leading their own groups within the PPP.

As a matter of fact, all these leaders are already very close to the top leadership for varying reasons. But Sherry Rehman is the one with whom Bilawal feels comfortable for her better communication skills in English language. She was the only PPP leader who accompanied Bilawal during his recent visit to Washington DC.

Manzoor Wattoo and Makhdum Ahmed, who made entry into the PPP after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, enjoy the blessings of Asif Ali Zardari. Khurshid Shah and Qamar Zaman Kaira are the leaders who have better knowledge of the ground realities and Bilawal values their advice on party matters.

“There is nothing wrong as long as these leaders perform their respective roles to strengthen the party. The problem is that PPP is no longer a cohesive political force at the grass-roots level. It stands divided into small groups who are loyal only to their leaders and not to the party,” a senior PPP leader commented over the situation who did not want to be named.

“Rivalry at the top is creating divisions at the bottom,” he put it in a nutshell. According to him, the party was also getting weaker due to another reason also. “There is a total disconnect between the top leadership and the party cadres at the lowest level,” he observed.