LAHORE, Pakistan: Embroiled with economic meltdown, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) may opt to refrain from the upcoming general elections in Punjab, and instead, is likely to field like-minded Independent Candidates.
The elections in Punjab are slated to be held on April 30, 2023 after President Dr. Arif Alvi announced the said date for the polls on Friday. The president made the announcement after considering the dates proposed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Sources said that after the announcement of date of April 30 for Punjab Assembly elections, PML-N has an option that it might refrain from contesting polls and field like-minded Independent Candidates.
The ruling party in the Centre had already announced staying away from the National Assembly by-elections to avoid a political embarrassment it could face and now same can be political love in Punjab Assembly elections.
In the recent by-election held on February 26 in National Assembly’s Constituency NA-193 Rajanpur-I, PML-N lost to arch-rival Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) by a massive margin of over 35,000 votes.
In the by-election, PTI’s Muhammad Mohsin Khan Leghari secured 90,392 votes while PML-N’s Candidate Ammar Ahmed Khan Leghari bagged 55,218 votes.
The Rajanpur debacle was an indicator of the gloomy situation for PML-N as its popularity graph has dwindled even in once its stronghold Punjab – wherein the party ruled for decades.
Even the near future doesn’t look promising apparently for PML-N either. It is feared that the ruling government wouldn’t be able to tackle the worsening economy and skyrocketing inflation any soon.
The State Bank of Pakistan has also forecast that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation in the Fiscal Year 2022-23 may touch 27 to 29 percent on year-on-year basis, and if it happens it would end up as the second highest inflation rate in the Country’s history after 30 percent of 1974.
It’s also worth remembering that on October 16 last year, PTI managed to win six National Assembly’s seats in by-elections held in eight Constituencies while additionally, Imran Khan-led party also won three Punjab Assembly’s seats on the same day. Those three Punjab Assembly’s seats had earlier been won by PML-N in 2018 general elections.
Likewise, PTI won 15 seats of Punjab Assembly in by-elections held in 20 Provincial Constituencies on July 17, 2022 when PML-N itself was in the power in the province.
The ongoing political scenario looks more appalling for PML-N for the fact that it suffered defeats in above-mentioned by-elections despite the backing of more than a dozen coalition partners and independent electables.