Benazir’s PPP not to lose vigour
by Tariq Butt – June 19, 2004
ISLAMABAD: The recognition of the newly formed Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), emerging out of the merger of PPP-Sherpao and PPP-Patriots, by the Election Commission is going in no way to nibble, even slightly, at the popular standing of exiled former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto-led PPP.
The motive behind clinching the name of her party is to make the workers of the real PPP believe that the new entity is the genuine party Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had founded in the late sixties. Any worker buying this naive argument will be stupid.
Parties like the new PPP need no political workers to stay or flourish in the political arena. They are confined to “leaders”, who form these parties at the behest and props of high and mighty. These leaders are always in search of official crutches to stand and be in politics. No doubt, they do succeed but their success is transitory and their parties evaporate in thin air with the disappearance of the official patronage.
Several attempts had been made in the past to rob Bhuttos of the PPP title, but these had not been successful. Some renegade PPP leaders had been naming their parties, similar to the label of the PPP, to deceive its workers, but of no avail. The fate of the new party will be no different.
Benazir Bhutto’s vote will stand with her party, having any name. If tomorrow the political scenario changes and compulsions force her comeback to Pakistan and she gets her party registered with the Election Commission in the name of PPP-Benazir, her supporters will vote for it, and not for the new PPP, which has relied more on securing its name.
The new PPP has little nationwide support. Its Sherpao component is limited to not more than half a dozen seats of the national and NWFP assemblies from the Frontier province. What impact could it have on the national political landscape by winning just a couple of seats in a 342-member National Assembly? Sherpao’s federal and NWFP legislators had won in the October 2002 general elections on their own and not due to Benazir’s backing.
The Patriots component of the PPP is confined to Punjab alone. All of its national and provincial legislators succeeded in the last polls only because of Benazir’s support. They switched loyalties later for greener pastures.
Therefore, unlike Sherpao’s MNAs and MPAs, they owe little to their personal political standing to reach the assemblies.
They are going to be in deep trouble in the next general elections, which they will be fighting on the platform of their new PPP that has no organisational structure anywhere in Pakistan . It has only central office bearers, who are all ministers in the Jamali cabinet. They know it very well that there is no point in putting up elaborate nationwide organisational paraphernalia as they are well aware of the political relevance of their party.
In their own right, some Patriots are influential figures in their respective home constituencies, but they will not be winning contestants when facing formidable challengers.