What is in a name or, for that matter, what is in a title? But which title are we talking about when deeds not titles, and powers not symbols, matter. The obvious reference is to the title of titles that was never known on our political horizon till the time Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi was anointed as the ‘deputy king’ (read Deputy Prime Minister or DPM). For all practical purposes, it was anointment, instead of the routine, official appointment and the credit for this goes to the Chaudhry himself, including the elder Chaudhry - Shujaat Hussain. Chaudhry-watchers believe that the DPM title was won - if not earned - by the Q-League leadership through their extraordinary negotiating skills. I am ready to buy this theory, given my own observation that the Chaudhry brothers are astute political-gamers, who know the art of negotiating better than scores of their contemporaries. The question, however, is: what was the main objective of demanding a title that has no teeth or plainly speaking, taking a toothless position? And perhaps, the answer lies in our socio-political and cultural dynamics, and also in the Chaudhrys political acumen. Probably, the Chaudhry brothers know it well that it is an era of symbolism and display. They have put their finger on the pulse of the masses, especially those who hail from the ‘pendulum class’ that will switch sides if need be. This is the class that the Chaudhrys are addressing and political forecasters don’t see a big upset for the Q-League in the next general elections, courtesy these ‘titular gains’ of Chaudhry Elahi. Regarding the question, as to how a sizeable cross-section of the public opinion responds to these manoeuvres, many media persons have witnessed that ‘upsurge’. (Yes, I would like to call it an ‘upsurge’, at least in the crowd-gathering or crowd-pulling perspective, if not strictly in terms of popularity.) Ever since the day the title of Deputy Prime Minister was conferred on the former Chief Minister Punjab, hundreds of Q-deserters are thronging the Chaudhry’s house to congratulate him. Of course, this honour is not without a motive! It seems that the ‘Chaudhrys’ specialised technique of using a title for crowd-pulling’ has started working. But what will be its ultimate fallout in the forthcoming elections? Surprisingly, some analysts believe that under the new setting, even if the Chaudhrys may not be able to bag a large number of seats in the Assemblies, they won’t be ‘big’ losers either. Some political pundits in the ‘pendulum class’ with no fixed loyalties and leanings are even predicting more or less the same degree of numerical strength of Q-League in the national and provincial legislatures, mainly in southern Punjab, as N-League. Other keen observers also opine that Chaudhry Elahi’s clout is not merely confined to his title’s ‘chamak’, but he is far more pervasive and stronger than ever before, and there is hardly any department in the centre that ‘disobeys’ or defies him or his deputies. Whatever is the truth underlying these theories, the ‘DPM’ title appears to have created some degree of stir. Yet, in which direction it is headed and how is it going to sustain, one can only say, “there’s many a slip between the cup and the lip.” But even that art is not beyond the grasp of the Chaudhry brothers; they know how to bridge the ‘gaps’ and the ‘slips’! 

The writer is a former journalist based in Lahore.Email: mianrehman1@gmail.com