The fact remains, however that PTI still does not have enough winning candidates in major constituencies in Punjab and also the presence of multiple candidates in any one constituency can cause a friction within the party. PTI is of the view that the party candidate is of less importance in urban areas and anyone nominated would ride on the wave of party popularity to victory, but how much a candidate himself is weighed and how much is the party, is a question that will only be answered on the election day.

The other important factors that can change the scenario is the possible sentence of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter. A jail sentence for them can swing both ways and can generate a wave of sympathy for PML-N or fracture the party for good.

As for PPP it was totally wiped out in Punjab in 2013 elections and it seems that it has failed to revive itself even marginally for the next general elections. Bilawal Bhutto has not succeeded to inspire the public and his lack of local language skills, his highly anglicised accent, his shouting and shriek style of delivering a speech no matter what the occasion and his party’s reputation regarding corruption and poor performance in last term have eradicated his chances of becoming a popular leader.

However PPP will get votes from the rural area of Sindh where some of the poorest of the population resides and they have no choice to do anything but as they are told. The old and exploitative feudal system is still thriving in Sindh and the sister of Asif Ali Zardari, Faryal Talpur has actually been caught on tape threatening people in public gatherings of dire consequences in case they decide to vote for anyone else than PPP. In this situation a poor and highly vulnerable voter cannot but vote for the rich and powerful who has the capacity to destroy him or grant him the space to live, even barely. Rural Sindh and the most backward districts would continue to be a stronghold of PPP, even if by default.

PPP after their prolonged rule in Sindh does not have anything much to bring to the election as far as the performance goes. The situation regarding basic enmities of life, drinking water, health care, emergency services and housing all remain deplorable in Sindh. There has been very limited infra structure development, the school education system is totally collapsed and there are still thousands of ghost schools and ghost teachers that are a stigma on the performance of the PPP government. The government is all riddled with scandals of land grabbing, china cutting, examination mafia, water tanker mafia, etc . The Chief Justice has himself taken suo-moto notice of the non availability of drinking water and other basic facilities in Karachi and the woes of K- Electric continue. Also now all of Sindh districts and especially Karachi is littered with millions of tons of garbage and there seems to be no solution to the situation in sight.

PPP would, definitely, win seats in Baluchistan this time round and the maneuvering in Senate election would pay.

MQM has been dealt with effectively and it would become even more inconsequential after the elections. Their performance in Karachi remains dismal and both factions have made a joke of themselves with repeated antics.

If the elections are held in time and PML-N remains intact, then according to my estimate, the largest single party in the assembly can only be PML-N. There is nothing on ground at all that suggests otherwise. PML-N candidates, simply have a stronger hold in their districts in Punjab. Even the disqualification of stalwarts like Khawaja Asif from Sialkot, would not have any effect on his constituency or popularity in his home town, in case he does not contest, his nominee will win, easily. Ahsan Iqbal would win with even more votes than before. There is no visible change which could reflect that people have changed their voting preference in Punjab. However with a delay in elections the party might lose some seats in South Punjab and there would be a lot of independent candidates in the arena as well. PML-N would win more seats in KPK this time round. It might also get a few seats from Sindh but that would remain inconsequential.

It can be predicted, looking at the situation on ground that PTI will get limited seats from Punjab and there are no indications on ground to claim a landslide victory. One of the reasons is that the party has not done enough work in organising its district or tehsil level offices, especially in Punjab and like last time PTI leadership, generally, is of the view that they can win largely on the popularity and charisma of Chairman PTI. The organisation of party at grass root level is weak and the connection of party leaders with the local party workers is weaker. The PTI candidates are often found looking for some ways to contact their leadership but it is quite tedious and involves the approvals of various intermediatory authorities. PTI Chairman can definitely pull crowds in jalsas but that does not automatically translate into votes in the constituencies. It can still get seats from KPK, none from Baluchistan and may be one or two odd seats in Karachi.

The tall claims of Asif Zardari of forming the next government in the center ring hollow at the moment but Politics is after all a game of possibilities.

 

The writer is a freelance journalist based in Lahore. She has extensive experience in writing on development economics and disaster management.