LAHORE: The PPP’s hope for making a comeback in the NA-122 by-poll was dashed on Sunday after it repeated its 2013 general election performance, falsifying the tall claims of its leadership that saw the “Bhutto’s party revival” in the contest.

Some PPP leaders from Punjab were of the view that the leadership was responsible for the miserable performance of the party in the by-election.

“I would rather plainly hold PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari responsible for the routing of the PPP in NA-122 in particular and Punjab in general,” a PPP diehard said.

“While PTI chief Imran Khan Khan and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif were active in running the campaign of their respective candidates, our leader was shying away from NA-122 and even did not bother to hold a video conference to bolster the campaign of his candidate Barrister Aamir Hasan,” he said, adding how could a party make a comeback without its head leading it from the front.

“If Bilawal is keen to revive the party he should better be among the workers and back his candidates in such contests,” he suggested and added it appeared that the PPP top leadership had literally given up the hope of the party’s revival in Punjab. “This humiliating defeat should be enough for Mr Bilawal to review the party policies, especially in Punjab,” he said.

Another PPP leader sees an ‘understanding’ between the PPP and PML-N in the NA-122 by-poll. “It appears that the PPP top leadership deliberately avoided to involve itself in the campaign to facilitate the N-League candidate,” he said.

He said Barrister Hasan did his best all alone. “It would not be out of place to say that the party’s top leadership left Mr Hasan in the lurch,” he said.

According to insiders, the party had given no funds to Mr Hassan to financially support his campaign. It was a major reason that no publicity material of the PPP candidate was visible in the constituency, nor there was any rush in its few camps.

PPP Punjab President Mian Manzoor Wattoo told Dawn that the party did not leave the arena open and fielded its candidate. “We have opted for a way of struggle. We held a major rally in the constituency but we are not disappointed by the result and would continue our struggle,” he said.

To a question about Bilawal’s refusal to take part in his candidate’s campaign, Mr Wattoo said the co-chairman faced threats from extremists whereas the PML-N and PTI chiefs were not prone to such risk because of their tacit support for such elements. “However, Mr Bilawal will start video conferencing soon to motivate the workers,” he said.

PPP senior leader Navid Chaudhry said despite gross violations of Election Commission’s code of conduct by both the PML-N and PTI candidates the PPP took part in the election.

“The ECP completely failed to check the code violations,” he said, adding the low turnout showed that the people too protested the ECP’s code of conduct violations.

Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2015

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