Sunday, October 29, 2017

Newsline Op-ed Oct 27, 2017

PPP – done and dusted? Rashed Rahman To predict the demise of a political party, and that too one that still has a considerable residual cadre and support amongst the masses, is always a risky business. The predictions of the collapse of the PPP after its debacle in the 2013 elections proved premature, although there was no denying the fact that the PPP received a drubbing in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan, managing only to save some face by retaining its traditional majority in Sindh. This 2013 electoral debacle showed that the electorate had turned its back on one of the largest parties in the country that once boasted of being the only truly national party left in the field and which had by now been reduced to a rump provincial party of Sindh alone. The better 2008 election results owed a considerable debt to the memory of the party’s slain leader Benazir Bhutto. But Asif Zardari’s takeover of the party reins after Bibi’s death convinced some perceptive analysts that Zardari would do to the PPP what even Ziaul Haq could not do: cause its destruction and eventual demise. That seems well on its way by now. The decline in the PPP’s fortunes began after Benazir, returning from exile in 1986, clearly indicated that the party had abandoned its left wing populist programme and embraced the by now dominant neo-liberal paradigm. Since it was the original left wing populist programme (summed up in the catchy slogan: roti, kapra aur makaan, i.e. bread, clothing and housing) that had helped the PPP sweep Punjab in the 1970 elections, while relying on its feudal landowners’ base in Sindh, its abandonment spelt doom for the once mighty party in the largest-by-population province. That situation appears now to have become irreversible despite the revolving door, musical chairs parade of new leaders of the party in Punjab since Bibi’s death. Zardari’s ‘contribution’ since taking over has been the marginalisation of the party’s jialas (committed workers) in favour of ruling through, and benefiting from, cronies and front men. This has besmirched the PPP’s reputation as a party led by the corrupt. Those hoping for a turnaround in the PPP’s fortunes if Bilawal breaks with his father’s politics and stakes out a healthy, youthful, fresh start, ignore the difficulty in the former and the hollowness of the latter without a return to the PPP’s left wing roots.

No comments:

Post a Comment