LAHORE - Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has failed to regain the political ground in Punjab despite claims by the party leadership before elections about winning back this province in the manner Bhutto did in late 70s or Benazir Bhutto after return to Pakistan during Zia-era in July 1986.

The PPP failed to make a mark in last elections in Punjab although the party Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari undertook hectic back to back visits of different parts of the province. Addressing public rallies there, he raised much hope of sweeping the polls and once again forming government in Punjab and in the centre. But that remained a dream and the party could not go beyond winning seven national and six provincial assembly seats in the last general elections which was no difference from that the party achieved in May 2013 elections. The downfall of PPP in Punjab which started before 2013 elections appears persisting even today. The fact is fortified by the recent defection of party’s senior leader in Punjab Shaukat Busra to PTI after a number of party stalwarts had already switched over to Tehreek-i-Insaf and other parties in past.

The PPP leadership is again talking of mid-term election and with this voice the party leadership is blending the same claims of winning the snap polls in Punjab and the centre and forming government. But in Punjab things are the same as they were years before for the PPP and question arises what extraordinary the leadership holds in the stock of experience to turn the table on the rivals mainstream, the PTI and PML-N, to make their way to the power corridors if snap polls take place.

It was some seven years back when the PPP bifurcated the Punjab presidentship into south and the central to streamline party affairs, making contact with masses, mobilising party workers, appeasing and bringing back the annoyed and diehard activists and addressing their problems with least delay. But the result is still far from being achieved and party workers still find themselves isolated and grieving about the Bhutto ideology which they say, the leadership has failed to adhere to after assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

It is notable that the PPP which had been in power four times in the centre and three times in Punjab, performed so low in last elections in Punjab that its vote tally remained lower than the minnow and novice Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) which indeed is mindboggling. It got the air before the last election that the party has dearth of candidates who will contest the elections and despite that the party fielded candidates on majority of seats however failed to make a mark. In the last by-election of October 14 last, the party failed to win any seat and supported the PML-N candidates on most of seats in Punjab. The situation is such that the Party is preferring to support the opposition partner PML-N in the last by-elections than fielding its candidate at least to measure the difference of popularity from the last general polls in the city. Contrary to that TLP took heart and put its candidate in the run in PP-168 Lahore.

Since PTI took over, Bilawal only once visited the city to condole the death of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz with her spouse Nawaz Sharif while, Asif Ali Zardari after September 17th visit to Jati Umra only once came to the city knowing well that the city is considered as yardstick for political pulse of every party.

As to the party workers, Bilawal Bhutto stays more to their heart than anyone else and they want him to play independent politics to carry forward the ideology of Bhuttoism without succumbing to expediencies and thoughts of anyone else.

During a survey, most of the party workers were not satisfied with leadership and complained of getting no response in need from them. As such a huge number of PPP activists stay politically neutral and marooned and detest even to vote in the election and this factor is causing a big loss to the party. At the time when the party leadership is talking loudly for snap polls in hope of getting landslide victory, the party needs to do a lot of homework in Punjab otherwise the PPP will continue its downward journey in the province where victory of a party is a guarantee to rule in the centre and the province, say the political observers.