When it comes to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Punjab, a sense of déjà vu is too weak a phrase to describe the impressions of the watcher. The party seems to be struggling with the same problem it was faced with immediately after the last general elections – the PPP’s falling popularity in the province – and moreover its solution to it remains the same too: throw the party’s co-chairman, Billawal Bhutto Zardari at it. ‘Re-organisation of the PPP in Punjab’ and ‘rejuvenation of the local party workers’ are phrases that have been in circulation for a while now, but it seems that the party is ready to give them a shot one last time.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will address public rallies in all Punjab districts starting from October this year as part of party’s revival campaign, starting with Okara district for its first protest rally as a token of solidarity with Anjaman-e-Mozaireen, a farmer’s body which has a history of struggle for the rights of this community. While the precise schedule remains unknown, it is understood that the party plans to convert the momentum created by these rallies into a full-fledged election campaign.

With Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif campaigning as if the election was already upon them, it was necessary that the PPP entered the fray too lest it get left behind – a reasonable decision given the circumstances. However, is entrusting Bilawal with that responsibility, especially by only making speeches, is going to be enough?

If the recent campaign in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) – led by Bilawal’s speeches – is anything to go by then the answer seems to be no; the party was flayed by the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) in the polls. Unbelievable as it may sound to hard-core “jiyalas”, the name Bhutto isn’t enough to entice the masses anymore. The PPP needs to come up with substance and engage with real, contemporary issues if it is to make real progress.

The briefly mentioned “Kissan movement” hints at a bit of substance that the party could run with, but at this point we have no idea what issues will be discussed under the movement, or whether there are any glaring issues with Punjabi farmers that can form the backbone of an election campaign to begin with.

It increasingly seems the PPP is lost in the images of its glorious past. Farmers, the military, and Bhutto are the icons of the previous generation – yet the party keeps dragging them out again in the face of an obviously evolving world.