1970 and 2013 general elections
Posted on 10 months ago
Some vital points which always elude the perception of political analysts, regarding 1970 general elections vis a vis the upcoming elections of 2013, merit examination, somewhat, at length.
The 1970 electoral exercise was the first genuine democratic effort in the country after a prolonged dictatorship. The military government of General Yahya Khan, due to their military mindset, had largely to depend on the lopsided analysis of the inner coterie of some generals and some civilian bureaucrats. It was concluded that no political party will be able to get majority in the National Assembly. It was, therefore, a general belief that only a hung parliament would emerge as a result of the general elections. The military government was pleased to believe in this concept, as it suited their vested interest. So the government let it go for a hung parliament. But as a result of the actual event of elections, there was something else in store.
Being the first democratic electoral exercise, people voted mostly of their own choice. Although the ethnic tangle of Pakistan bound the populace in their clan preferences but there had not yet been a straight jacket of ethnicity in place.
As against that the upcoming elections are taking place in a different ethnic mosaic altogether. The irreparable damage done to the people of Pakistan during General Zia ul Haq rule still persists. The ethnic divide orchestrated by Gen Zia had multiple ugly facets. Apart from clan and biradry bondages, Gen Zia made sure that the people stood divided on sectarian basis as well.
With reference to the so-called tsunami of PTI’s Imran Khan, the great Khan goes wrong at a tangent. PPP had a novel and attractive slogan of Roti, Kapra and Makan (food, clothing and residence). The slogan was picked up by the masses with an unprecedented zeal and in a matter of days it became a song of every household of Pakistan. The slogan was also backed up by a written manifesto, explaining the micro mechanics of achieving the claims of the slogans. Imran Khan, on the other hand, does not think it necessary to come up with a workable socio-economic programme. He only reiterates his claim of a quick fix, whereby all the major ills of the country will be put right in a matter of three months. Principally only those who believe in superstition should vote for him. But surely even some sane people too will vote for him.
The other point is to ascertain the intrinsic value of all the political forces, in the current epoch, through an unbiased analysis. At the eve of 1970 elections the electoral track record of the political parties involved was not available. Today all the political forces in the arena have already come a long way through varied electoral experiences.
We take Muslim League first. Muslim League (ML) has proved true to its traditions of splitting in to splinters every now and then. If everything goes well, there are at least over four factions of ML bracing to fight upcoming elections, independent of one another. Yet the faction of PMLN remains a cognizable force, despite PMLQ being a thorn in its side. Although PMLN is a local party of Punjab yet it does not have an unquestioned sway in its own province like the PPP has in Sindh. There are around 150 National Assembly seats in the province. Approximately 50 seat each in South, Central and Northern Punjab. The southern part has always been the domain of PPP. Central and northern parts are though the bastions of PMLN, where PMLQ too is a contestant in a number of constituencies. Apart from that PTI of Imran Khan is going to snatch a sizable chuck of ML legislature in the area. The electoral calculus of Punjab also presents an intriguing number game. As PTI will be taking a toll of PMLN’s votes which is bound to collaterally benefit PPP as well as the PMLQ. These crosscurrents are likely to induct further complexity in the election results.
Sindh less Karachi will be bagged, as usual, by PPP. There has been no new factor that could be considered for any changed equation. Also the Karachi chunk too remains unchanged. Karachi will be bagged by MQM with some seats going to ANP and PPP with usual count.
In KP and Balochistan things are likely to remain unchanged.
No fortune teller can tell the exact number of seats to fall in the share of different political parties because it is not humanly possible to precisely predict the outcome of general elections of a volatile nation of around 180 million people.
But to indicate a general pattern of things emerging as a result of the elections is within the realm of common sense. Unless some extraordinary events take place on the national scene, between now and the election eve, PPP is likely to emerge as the single largest party. With the cooperation of the present coalition partners, PPP will be able to form government in the center as well as in the provinces.
To conclude, PPP came in to being as a progressive, left of the center, party. Unlike the elitist parties like the Muslim League the PPP had a great appeal and became popular with the masses in all the federating units. PTI is no different to ML except that it lags far behind ML in organizational matters as well as in a defined socio-economic programme.
Unfortunately the ML has always been identified as the mainstay of feudal elite of Punjab. Its influence has, at best, extended marginally to KP in the past, which is not there at present. The party can therefore be justifiably termed as a parochial party of Punjab. ML has maintained its political clout as a feudal party due to a constraint imposed by its genesis but PTI on the other hand, out of narrow-mindedness of its leadership, has chosen to be a parochial party, as well, of Punjab, of its own volition. Even ANP and JUIF have sway in more than one province and as such could be termed as the national parties.
The factor of PTI being fresh, could only be finally evaluated, according to its performance, in the upcoming elections but position of the remaining political parties is unambiguous, as stated above. Last word, of course, cannot be said in such matter where things are moving at a breakneck speed but indicating a general direction to which the movement will take place is very much the privilege of political analysts. I have done only that.
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