The PML(N) suffered a serious setback after its candidate in PP-38 lost elections to PTI with a big margin. Sialkot is the PML(N)’s stronghold where the party had won all the five national seats and nine out of 10 provincial seats in the 2018 elections. The victory has boosted PTI’s morale after it had been losing one by-election after another. Coming as it does on the back of the party’s victory in AJK it has even aroused hopes in the PTI of winning the 2023 elections. The plans to challenge the PPP in rural Sindh are also being finalized and the PM has appointed former Sindh Chief Minster Arbab Ghulam Rahim as SAPM on Sindh Affairs
Few would buy PML(N) leader Maryam Nawaz’s claim that it was not an election but a “selection”. How come that Daska was an election while PP-38 was a selection? There were no complaints about manipulation or rigging by the PML(N) throughout the campaign but they cried foul as results started to appear on the TV.
Several explanations are being offered for the PML(N)’s defeat. Was it due to conflicting lines of action in the party and a leadership mess? Was it due to the all out support and expertise provided to the candidate by the PML(Q) as he is the son of a local PML(Q) leader?
There is another explanation which if found true would have serious ramifications for future elections. It is maintained that while the urban population is turning against the PTI for rising prices, the growers in the rural areas have benefited from higher support price for wheat and sugarcane, boosting of agricultural credit by 80 pc to Rs 2.7 trillion and issuance of Kisan Card which helps the famers get fertilizer and seed on concessional price.
It is maintained that the measures have created a soft corner for the PTI in a section of the farming community and as PP-38 comprises mostly rural area, the PMLN owes its victory to the PTI’s pro-grower policy. There is a need on the part of the PMLN to be objective while finding the reasons behind its defeat for otherwise it could face more setbacks.