LAHORE – The PML-Q breakaway MPAs whose support has helped the PML-N attain majority in Punjab and stay in power for more than four years are likely to be accommodated by the ruling party in the province in the upcoming general elections.
During talks aimed at making seats adjustment and reaching electoral understanding with other political parties, the PML-N’s prime consideration has been defeating the PPP and the PML-Q in the upcoming elections.
Despite anticipating a gradual rise in its popularity in the days to come and a far better performance in the upcoming polls, the party is inclined to make seats adjustment, particularly in Punjab, provided it retains a commanding position after the elections.
The sources say, with an eye on the future, the PML-N leadership first wants to consolidate its ranks, so as to address reservations of disgruntled party members.
At the same time, the party does not want to breach the trust established with the PML-Likeminded though it may employ a different strategy while dealing with the Unification Bloc, though both are dissident factions of the PML-Q.
As concerns adjusting the new entrants, the PML-N will field them in the constituencies from where they returned in the last elections. However, even in that case, the potential PML-N candidates will not be ignored and a due weight will be given to their chances of winning.
The sources further say while deciding electoral matters, making seats adjustment or reaching understanding with nationalist parties in Balochistan and Sindh, the PML-N focuses on bolstering the concept of federation.
The Sindh National Front of Mumtaz Ali Bhutto has already merged into the PML-N, following which many political heavyweights have joined the latter in Sindh. Some senior PML-Q and PTI leaders are also expected to join the PML-N after announcement of the election schedule.
After seats adjustment with the PML-Likeminded, which has been recognised by the Election Commission as a separate political entity with a separate manifesto and an election symbol, the PML-N is trying to contact other parties; and meeting have been held in the recent past with Baloch and Pakhtun nationalist parties such as the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP), the PaktunKhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M).
The sources say the PML-N views the Likeminded and the Unification blocs differently, since the former is covered by an agreement while the others are voluntarily supporting the PML-N government in Punjab. Under the agreement, the Likeminded will get 33 seats of the National Assembly, as well as the Punjab Assembly seats falling under them.
As such, the likelihood of merger of Likeminded Bloc members into the PML-N cannot be ruled out. Alternatively, the 47 Unification Bloc members may join the Likeminded Bloc to enjoy the benefits of the agreement.
While talking to this scribe, PML-N senior member Senator Pervez Rashid said his party would honour its commitment with the Likeminded Bloc and give the party preferential right in the constituencies where it had electable candidates. As concerns the Unification Bloc, he said the PML-N had an understanding with the party since 2009 to field its members in the upcoming general elections.