PML-N senator, two former MPAs defect to Peoples Party

Published January 14, 2024
The combo photo shows Senator Rana Mehmood and former MPAs Rana Iqbal Siraj and Rana Tahir Shabbir.
The combo photo shows Senator Rana Mehmood and former MPAs Rana Iqbal Siraj and Rana Tahir Shabbir.

• Senator Rana Mehmood to contest from NA-150 on PPP ticket
• Ex-lawmakers Rana Iqbal, Rana Tahir to compete for PP-220, PP-222

LAHORE / BAHAWALPUR: Three prominent PML-N leaders from Multan — a senator and two former MPAs — declared their allegiance to PPP on Saturday ahead of the next month’s elections.

The leaders who swit­ched sides include Sena­tor and former MNA Rana Mehmoodul Has­s­an, his brother Rana Shahidul Hassan, and former MPAs Rana Iqbal Siraj and Rana Tahir Shabbir.

The development — ann­ounced at a press conference in Multan, att­e­n­ded by PPP Cha­irman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari — marks a signi­ficant change in Multan’s political dynamics.

Mr Mehmood, who has had a long-standing association with PML-N and has twice secured a seat in the National Assembly in the 2002 and 2008 elections, will now contest the polls on the PPP’s ticket from the NA-150 constituency.

Rana Siraj and Rana Shabbir are set to contest the Punjab Assem­bly elections from PP-220 and PP-222, respectively, under the PPP banner.

This transition followed these leaders’ discussions with Mr Bhutto-Zardari, bolstering PPP’s ranks as it gears up for the upcoming electoral contest.

During the presser, Mr Bhutto-Zardari warmly welcomed the new members, emphasising PPP’s commitment to representing the entire country and specifically highlighting its long-standing ties with Multan.

He outlined the party’s ambitious 10-point ele­ction manifesto, whi­ch focuses on wage increases, free electricity, education, and healthcare development across the country.

The PPP chairman emphasised that the PPP was the only party that had been struggling for the people for three generations, and its purpose behind contesting the elections was not linked with evading prison or getting out of jail but to serve the people.

He announced visiting Multan again on Jan 26 for a public gathering.

He invited the people to attend and express their support for the new form of politics that the PPP aims to introduce, to end the traditional politics of hate and division.

Responding to questions, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said the PPP’s sole desire was to be a laadla (blue-eyed) of the masses, as they were the source of power as per the teachings of PPP founder and former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari emphasised that he was leading the only political party in the country that was running its election campaign and placing absolute trust in the people.

Underlining PPP’s generational struggle, Mr Bhutto-Zardari differentiated his party’s ideology from others, stressing its focus on the needs of the common people, including farmers, labourers and journalists.

He criticised former premiers Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif for allegedly prioritising their personal vendettas over the needs of the people and reiterated PPP’s commitment to free and fair elections.

He asserted that the PPP was not among those who vacated the pitch or could be intimidated. He said the elections would take place on Feb 8, as stated by the chief justice of Pakistan, and urged people not to be under any other impression.

‘Dynamic economic plan’

Earlier, speaking at an election rally at Bahawalpur’s Dring Stadium — a hockey ground where Benazir Bhutto also addressed a public meeting ahead of the 2008 elections — Mr Bhutto-Zardari described the Feb 8 elections as a death and life issue for his party and appealed people to vote for PPP.

He said the country had been facing challenges of price hikes, poverty and unemployment like in the past and claimed that PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had brought the country out of a financial crisis in the 1970s.

He said the PPP once again had accepted the challenge to introduce a dynamic to fix economic issues.

Criticising his opponents, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said none of the political parties and their politicians had pain for the people’s problems like unemployment and poverty as “they only want the chair”.

He stressed that his party had no contest with any of the political parties and politicians, and it was only fighting unemployment and poverty in the country. He claimed that the PPP was the only party contesting elections to bring a real change to the lives of the poor people.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari announced various initiatives, including a poverty elimination programme, housing schemes, and youth-focused programmes like the youth card and stipends for the unemployed. He also promised to revamp the BISP and its linked programmes like Waseela Education and Waseela Rozgar.

He called on party workers to actively promote the PPP’s agenda and announced plans to establish an IT university and a cardiology hospital in Bahawalpur if elected to power.

He urged PPP workers to launch a door-to-door campaign to convey the party’s 10-point manifesto to the people.

The public gathering was also attended by former Punjab governor and PPP’s south Punjab President Makhdoom Ahmad Mahmood, PPP leader Zafar Waraich, PPP candidate for NA-168 Bahawalpur Hafiz Hussain Ahmad Madni and other leaders.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2024

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