Lahore - Illogical as it may seem, but it is true that PPP’s Patron-in-Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has been advised to postpone his scheduled visit to Punjab during the upcoming local elections; because some party men think it would prove counter-productive.
The PPP leadership had earlier decided that Bilawal should tour Punjab to boost morale of the demoralised party cadres to ensure their active participation in the electoral process.
He was scheduled to undertake tour of eight Punjab divisions to have direct interaction with the local leadership. But ‘saner’ elements within the party advised the top leadership to postpone the visit which, in their view, would create further dissentions in the party already having organisational problems at the local level.
These party leaders have presented the logic that it would not be feasible for Bilawal to see each and every party office-bearer at the divisional level; and those not afforded the opportunity to meet him would naturally turn against those ‘blessed’ party men, eventually affecting the party performance in the local polls.
According to them, the party has had a bad experience before when Asif Ali Zardari visited Bilawal House Lahore in the past. A good number of activists were stopped at the main entrance at that time only to be told by security men that their names were not included in the lists provided by the Punjab leadership.
The angry workers later lodged strong protest over their maltreatment with the party high ups who failed to come up with any plausible explanation of why they had been stopped from entering the Bilawal House.
As per party decision, Bilawal would now be visiting Punjab after the local bodies’ elections. He would undertake tour of eight Punjab divisions and have first-hand-knowledge of the party structure at the grassroots level. He may announce changes in the party organisation after getting feedback from party cadres.
Presently, PPP’s organisations at district and tehsil levels are almost non-existent owing to a number of factors the most important being their lesser interaction with the leadership. The party candidates in the last elections faced immense problems in getting polling agents to man the polling stations. Among other factors which had contributed to PPP’s defeat in the May 11 polls, one of these was that local organisations did not cooperate with the party candidates. They had then flatly refused to be part of the election campaign for the reason that they had not been looked after well by the party when it was in power.
Given the different dynamics of the local polls compared to the general elections, the party having strong organisations at the grassroots level would stand greater chance of success in the upcoming polls.
“Since the electorates would be electing local leaders at the union council level, the party cadres at this level would play crucial role in the victory and defeat of candidates,” commented a PPP activist who was highly critical of party leadership for not activating party organisations ahead of the local polls.
Meanwhile, the planned move to replace present leadership in Punjab has also been put on hold till the local elections. Earlier, the top hierarchy had decided to introduce new faces to galvanise the party which met humiliating defeat in Punjab in the last elections.