Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s tour of Punjab has finally begun, and a lot of the party’s hope rests on this trip to the most populous province of the country. The PPP’s failings during their last stint in power left the party’s reputation tarnished, and efforts to rejuvenate the party in the province are sorely needed. This tour was aimed to be a means to hold the government accountable and get the four demands of PPP accepted. However, the effectiveness of this grand rally to increase the PPP vote bank is in question.

Initial speeches reflect that party has nothing new to offer, and is only capitalising on the ruling party’s troubles as a means to galvanise its own movement. The four ‘demands’ of PPP are also derived through political opportunism of the same sort. Simply breaking down PML-N strategy will not get PPP more votes, and PTI is already doing this in Punjab and much more effectively.

Offering something better means going back to PPP’s socialist roots to create a real plan for a sustainable welfare state. While this will be hard, and may be met with tough resistance by a public majority that has become used to grand economic projects of the PML-N, it is the only earnest and clear mandate that the PPP can have that will set them apart. If the party wants to make headway in Punjab, abandoning old socialist slogans such as ‘roti, kapra, makaan’ (which is no longer a true reflection of the PPP’s political manifesto) and constructing a tangible political campaign with end results in mind, might do more to win back some of the old support.

With a young leader at the helm, the PPP has a chance most other mainstream parties do not – a leader that does not have (obvious) skeletons in his closet. Most would argue that this facelift is not nearly enough – and they are right – but perception counts for a lot in electoral politics and PPP has the chance to erase its past sins with a resplendent exterior. The eventual numbers that were left for the final address in Faisalabad is an indication of the diminishing popularity of PPP in Punjab. The simple fact is this; the party is currently a contradiction with actual policy diverging from what its leaders say on the podium.