These are not the times for politics — this has been the PPP slogan of late. The refrain takes on an entirely new meaning now that the vow to not do politics is accompanied by the PPP co-chairman’s presence among people affected by the floods.
The pledge for political restraint was not entirely unwarranted. The political situation in the wake of Imran Khan’s war on the system demanded sobriety. The question asked, however, was whether the PPP was going too far with its support for the prime minister — to a point where it posed a danger to itself.
The PPP leadership was staying away from the ground, especially in Punjab, which was bad politics. With Bilawal Bhutto Zardari venturing into the flood-hit areas of Punjab together with his visits to parts of Sindh, it is an attempt at better politics.
The PPP politicians in Punjab have been long waiting for their leader to show up. The party is faced with a serious revival challenge in the province and its support has fallen drastically. It has in recent times been accused of failing to make even a basic effort at exploring any space emerging out of the tussle between the PTI and PML-N.
So eerie has been the PPP’s dormancy that some well-known party names in Punjab have been asked when they planned to switch to other available choices. Those among them who want to be with the PPP in its tough hour in the province would be happy that Mr Bhutto Zardari has at last found the lost map to their neighbourhood.
All they can hope now is that the tour by their leader of Chiniot, Lahore and Multan is followed by more such visits and a sustained campaign aimed at kind of a reinvention of the PPP. For now it is only a ripple, not a splash
Mr Bhutto Zardari’s presence in Punjab is essential to any renewal plan the party must follow, but his challenge in Sindh, where his party is in power, is of a different nature. He must reorganise and sympathise and show solidarity in Punjab; in Sindh he must do all these things and then must provide governance as well.
He has to find ways to project himself as an heir who cannot just stir emotions but who can also improvise and use the system to deliver efficiently. The rule has not changed: His delivery in Sindh will help his drive in Punjab.
Published in Dawn, September 21th, 2014