The result of a by-election on provincial assembly seat (PP-20) in Punjab’s Chakwal district shows that Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) is still strong in Punjab. The victory can be seen as a survey to gauge the political temperature and mood of the locality. The triumph on PP-20 gives validation to the rhetoric of the ruling party that it is the most popular party in Punjab.

Since 2013 till this day, 34 by-elections have been held in Punjab. The ruling party in the province has lost only four seats to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) and just one to Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Except for one seat in the district of Rawalpindi, the ruling party lost all other seats where PML-N was not strong historically. PML-N has successfully secured the rest of the constituencies. However, in few by-elections, the difference of vote between the candidates of the ruling party and the runner-up –in most cases, candidates of PTI– was not a major one. This slight difference can create problems for the ruling party in the upcoming general elections.

Nevertheless, this victory is not short of a morale booster for PML-N given the last few tumultuous months led people to speculate the future position of the party. Also, the vote difference between the winning and runner-up contenders is almost thirty thousand; it will help in discarding many speculations and rumours about the uncertain future of the party. The win also shows that PML-N has emerged strong out of the crises of the past few months. It will for sure help Nawaz Sharif and other leaders of PML-N to further propagate their political rhetoric that all “conspirators” together failed to inflict a defeat on PML-N in the “people’s court”.

As the win will have a soothing effect on the leaders of PML-N, the leadership also needs to be cognizant of the fact that Tehreek-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) stood third with 16,576 votes in the recent by-election. The pattern of this by-election is similar to that of NA-120. TLYR gained at the expense of PPP. However, it failed to break the mainstream party votes sufficiently. Perhaps the common man does not give serious thought to the aggressive movement that has nothing on offer to the people right now. However, considering that it is a nascent party, its voters are increasing. And their increase should make the mainstream political parties worried.