ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party is craving to see Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in Punjab amid fainting hopes of a revival in the biggest province.
The party performed badly in the first phase of the local government elections in Punjab last month, bagging less than 50 seats, far behind PML-Nawaz, independents and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
The only good news for the party was from Lalamusa where Qamar Zaman Kaira led the PPP to score 13 seats in his hometown.
The local polls, first in 10 years, were held on October 31 in 11 Punjab districts – Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujrat, Chakwal, Bhakkar, Nankana Sahib, Kasur, Pakpattan, Okara, Lodhran, Vehari and Bahawalnagar.
In Sindh, elections were held in eight districts – Sukkur, Khairpur, Shikarpur, Kashmore, Ghotki, Larkana, Shahdadkot and Jacobabad – where the PPP swept in the first stage.
In the 2013 general elections, PPP was routed when PML-N won followed by PTI. Since then there have been calls for reorganisation of the party to stage a comeback.
But despite many announcements, PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has been unable to give time to Punjab and has been active in Sindh.
On Sunday, he was in Thatta and Sujawal, claiming Bhuttos alone were the saviours of Sindh. Thatta and Sujawal are two of the few hotly contested districts in Sindh for the second phase of LG polls on November 19. The young PPP chief was welcomed by tens of thousands of people.
PPP lawmaker from Dera Ghazi Khan Khawaja Muhammad Nizamul Mehmood told The Nation he did not see any better performance by the party in the second and third phases of the LG polls in Punjab .
He said he had himself requested Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and others to visit Punjab and the constituencies to improve the standing, but to no avail.
“They showed the least interest. In these circumstances, we cannot expect any good. The local leaders cannot mobilise voters like the top leadership can,” he said.
Mehmood said there was a gap between the top leadership and voters. “Even we cannot meet Bilawal and others. This is proving bad for the party in Punjab . You have seen the results of the first phase of the LG polls and you are aware of the 2013 general election results,” he added.
The lawmaker said reorganisation of the party in Punjab should not be delayed any further. He said the committed people were also leaving the party due to hopelessness.
“I am a committed PPP man, but can’t stop my voters if the top leaders continue to ignore our constituencies,” he maintained.
Another PPP lawmaker, Sardar Shahab-ud-Din Khan from Layyah, said Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has security problems which stop him from visiting Punjab .
Asked why he was active in Sindh if security threats were so dire, Khan said, “Punjab is more dangerous than Sindh. Here his life is at risk.”
He said PPP activists must not be disappointed with the defeat in the LG polls as such elections were usually won by sitting governments.
The legislator said the main objective should be the 2018 general elections. “We have the potential to do better. Bilawal will come here and reorganise the party. We expect improvement in the 2018 polls,” he remarked.
Khan claimed the people had rejected PML-N in the first phase of the LG polls in Punjab as a large number of independents won in the province.
“The PPP rules Sindh and we swept the elections there. The PML-N could not do so in Punjab , which proves its popularity graph has gone down,” he contended.
The lawmaker hoped the PPP will get its share in the second and third phase of LG polls in Punjab . “It is a fact that we are waiting for the top leadership to visit our areas. This will moralise the workers before the reorganisation,” he said.
The second and third phase LG polls are due on November 19 and December 5, respectively. The election in Islamabad Capital Territory is scheduled for November 30.
Polling for LGs will be held in Khanewal, Sahiwal, Toba Tek Singh, Chiniot, Sargodha, Mianwali, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Hafizabad, Mandi Baha-ud-Din, Attock and Jhelum in the second phase on November 19.
In Sindh, elections will be held in Matiari, Tando Allahyar, Tando Muhammad Khan, Thatta, Sujawal, Badin, Hyderabad, Dadu, Jamshoro, Shaheed Benazirabad, Naushehro Feroz, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot and Tharparker in the upcoming phase.