Qaiser Sajjad |
There has been a lot of hue and cry over the recent election in NA-154 Lodhran in Pakistan. Political circles have termed it a setback for Pakistan, Tehreek-e-Insaf and the PMLN is viewing it as the “Divine Response”. Maryam Nawaz tweets: “This is simply majestic & sets the stage for the 2018 elections. MNS message has resonated with the masses. Opponents misjudged the situation. Alhamdolillah million times. We bow our heads before The Almighty in gratitude.“This is how The Divine responds to treachery & plotting.”
While Ex. Premier Nawaz Sharif calls it “revenge by the public”.
The message communicated all over the country – from the media and politicians – is that the victory corroborates Nawaz’s stance and it is the decision of people’s court in favour of MNS. This win has been seen as PMLN’s victory.
In the same fashion, their supporters and followers prefer to loyal with them rather the political parties. So, it is not the win of a political party over the other rather it is the victory of a group which loves to stay in power corridors of the parliament.
NA-154 Lodhran is a predominately a rural constituency which consists of Lodhran city, Mahrabad, Gogran, Makhdoom Aali, Jalla Arain, Adam Wahan, Haveli Naseer Khan etc. In these areas feudal system exists in an albeit weaker form, but still it is powerful politically and thus the majority voters are loyal to feudal lords. This feudal system is called “Dera Dari Nizam”. People visit these deras in order to solve their issues.
Therefore, people are loyal to these deras run by the landlords of villages in the constituency rather than political parties. That’s why in the 2013 General election in the same constituency, an independent candidate Sadeeq Khan Baloch defeated the candidates of three major parties, PTI, PMLN, and PPP. Lodhran was the only district in Punjab in 2013 election, where no political party was able to secure a single national or provincial seat. Later, the whole Kanju and Baloch group joined the ruling party.
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In 2015, Sadeeq Baloch was disqualified by the court on the degree issue and there was a by-election in NA-154. The election was won by Jehangir Tareen and this win was attributed to PTI’s moral victory because the NA-154 was among the four constituencies which were declared as a test for rigging allegations and PTI staged a lengthy sit-in in the capital city to probe the issue.
Sadeeq Bloch, thrice elected MNA from the same constituency joined PMLQ in his first MNA’s tenure, in his second tenure, he favoured PPP and in his third tenure he chose PMLN.
Since the 2015 election was a test and moral case for Mr. Tareen; and a challenge for him to maintain his status in the party as well. Therefore, Mr. Tareen campaigned in the election on a war footing and invested all necessary resources to secure a seat in the National Assembly. Not only he visited the poor people, but he also visited the power-elite (Dera Dars) of the locality, met whoever and did whatever was necessary to ensure victory. In the end, results were favorable to him.
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The recent election should be seen in this perspective. It once again united the all groups of Kanjo, Baloch and Peer dynasties. They were all campaigning under the PML-N’s banner for one candidate, but after the result, every group is advertising their own group’s lead in the union councils rather than the PMLN’s. People are not giving credit to Peer Iqbal Shah instead loyalists of Dera Dari Nizam are going to the Deera’s of Sadeeq Baloch, Peer Rafi-ud-Din Shah and Ahmed Bloch etc. People in local newspapers are also congratulating their own Dera Dars rather the winning candidate.
Mr. Abdul Rehman Kanju, the leader of the group rightly said in a TV interview, that had their opponent not been Tareen’s son, our lead would have been more than ninety thousand.
Lodhran was the only district in Punjab in 2013 election, where no political party was able to secure a single national or provincial seat. Later, the whole Kanju and Baloch group joined the ruling party.
This authenticates that in Lodhran’s politics – personalities matter more as compared to the political parties. The argument that Lodhran’s people elect an unknown person is false as Peer Iqbal Shah was not un known person in the political circles of Lodhran. His son is already an MPA from the constituency of Lodhran and his younger brother is District Vice Chairman of Lodhran. So, an already established dynasty wins again.
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The failure of political parties in remote areas like Lodhran is due to lack of organizational set up and parties prefer electables over their own party workers. These electable keep on changing parties or prefer ruling parties.
Sadeeq Bloch, thrice elected MNA from the same constituency joined PMLQ in his first MNA’s tenure, in his second tenure, he favoured PPP and in his third tenure he chose PMLN. In the same fashion, their supporters and followers prefer to loyal with them rather the political parties. So, it is not the win of a political party over the other rather it is the victory of a group which loves to stay in power corridors of the parliament.
Qaiser Sajjad is a lecturer at Govt. Degree College Lodhran. He is also a visiting fellow at English Department, Islamia University Bahawalpur. He writes on diverse national and international issues. The views expressed in this article are authors own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.