RAWALPINDI, April 29: PML-N leadership has taken to the warpath against the PPP but maybe it should be worrying more about the strength of its own ranks in a battle. Dawn has learnt that the findings of a secret survey conducted to gauge the popularity and performance of PML-N lawmakers in the urban areas of this garrison city has sounded alarmbells in the party.
Carried out by the intelligence wing of Punjab police, on the directive of the party stalwart and leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the survey found that the popularity graph of PML-N in Rawalpindi city had fallen sharply.
Rawalpindi’s urban areas are known to be the stronghold of the PML-N and in the general elections of February 2008 the party had clinched five of the National Assembly and 11 of the provincial assembly seats. The PPP could managed to grab only one NA seat from Gujar Khan and two provincial assembly seats from the rural areas while the PML-Q was left with one provincial assembly seat in Taxila.
A PML-N leader requesting not to be named said the opposition leader in the National Assembly was in-charge of the party’s Rawalpindi division and in order to check its popularity graph he had directed the police special branch last month to conduct the survey.
According to the findings of the survey received two weeks back, the PML-N workers and supporters came down hard on their party leaders and provincial ministers for not resolving their problems. It said the residents of these urban constituencies had held the provincial government equally responsible for the federal government’s failure to provide basic facilities to them. It also pointed out that the elimination of dual votes in the new electoral lists would create problems in the urban areas as most of the PML-N voters belonging to Murree were settled in Sadiqabad, Muslim Town, Shamsabad, Raja Bazaar, Nayya Mohallah and College Road.
The likely seat adjustment between Awami Muslim League of Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf would create further problems for the PML-N by clinching the votes of those who were angry with it.
“After receiving the report, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan called a meeting of the local lawmakers in the Punjab House last week and discussed the issue with them,” said the PML-N leader, adding Mr Khan directed the participants of the meeting to launch a cleanliness drive in the city areas consisting of NA-55 and NA-56 under the supervision of MPAs so that people-to-leaders contact could be promoted.
He said Mr Khan also sought weekly performance report from the MNAs and MPAs and directed them to contact party workers in their respective areas on a daily basis.
Aqib Khan, a PML-N worker in Union Council-2 Dhoke Ratta, told Dawn that party supporters were unhappy over the performance of the area MNA and MPAs. “Mostly they remain busy in Lahore and Islamabad and pay less attention to resolve the problems of the masses,” he said.
Malik Yasir, a resident of Nayya Mohallah and also a PML-N worker, said the residents staged a protest demonstration against the federal government in the winter against low gas pressure but the MNAs were not there.
He said when the residents contacted the MNAs and MPAs for resolution of their problems; they were told that they had no say in the affairs of the federal government.
When contacted by Dawn, MNA Malik Shakeel Awan said: “I am not aware of the survey. Rawalpindi is the fort of PML-N and the people here love Nawaz Sharif and they will also vote him in the next general elections.” He said the popularity graph of the PML-N was increasing due to Nawaz Sharif’s firm stands on different issues. He said the PML-N paid first priority to the well-being of its workers.
MPA Shaharyar Riaz added: “The survey was conducted during the last two weeks but I don’t know about its findings.” The MPA said he was not in the meeting held at the Punjab House. “But my colleagues had informed me about the details.”
The general secretary of the PML-N’s Rawalpindi chapter and former MNA from NA-55, Haji Pervaiz Khan, admitted that the secret survey was conducted. “In the survey, the PML-N workers and supporters expressed their resentments over the performance of the sitting MNAs,” he observed.
He, however, said the popularity of the party would improve if the elected representatives worked to resolve the public issues.