Should PTI be worried? 5 takeaways from the NA-154 defeat

February 14, 2018

It should have been game, set and match for PTI. Jahangir Tareen had trounced his PML-N rival in the 2015 by-election by a huge margin and with Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification fresh in the minds of the public, the writing was on the wall–PTI would soon regain NA-154 which it had lost due to Tareen’s disqualification.

The news shocked us all. Whether you were a PTI supporter (that must have hurt) or a PML-N sympathiser or even someone who keeps a keen eye on politics. You were just not expecting Ali Khan Tareen to lose. But lose he did and with it, dented the morale of his party.

Here are six takeaways from PTI’s loss at the hands of PML-N in the NA-154 by-election:-

1. Imran may have underestimated the reaction to Ali Tareen’s nomination

Politics is not a bed of roses and the cricketer-turned-politician should keep that in mind. Imran has always held his opponents responsible for destroying Pakistan–and more than often, he has blamed it on the menace of nepotism. Hence it came as a shock to most (particularly PTI loyalists) when Ali Khan Tareen was nominated as PTI’s candidate for the NA-154 election.

The fact that Ali Tareen had no prior stellar experience in politics and only bore his father’s name came as a shock to many since the party was quite outspoken on dynastic politics. Perhaps Imran Khan misjudged the reaction of his core support base–and is now forced to lick his wounds when they did not take to the ballot box.

2. The Kyun Nikala narrative seems to be gaining traction with the masses

Ever since Nawaz has been ousted from the echelons of power in Islamabad, he has called on the masses to support him as a ‘conspiracy’ was being hatched against him. The former prime minister has lashed out at everyone–from the country’s judiciary to its establishment and even referred to Imran Khan as a ‘puppet’ or the ‘blue-eyed-boy’.

While the opposition made fun of the whole Kyun Nikala slogan, turns out, it may have gained traction with the masses. If the layman is not convinced that a conspiracy is in the works against Nawaz, why is he taking to the ballot box with such passion?

3. What does PTI have in its bag of tricks to compete with PML-N in the forthcoming election?

Nawaz Sharif has hammered home the message that he has ended loadshedding in the country, restored law and order to a restive country, tackled the economic woes of Pakistan and built modern infrastructure that meets the needs of the common man in the country.

On the other hand, what does Imran Khan have to sell to the people? The recent results have shown that the PTI chief’s criticism of the Sharif family and their involvement in corruption is not enough–Imran needs more to sway the voters of Punjab who still believe Nawaz is the right man.

With time running out (and fast), does the PTI have anything up its sleeve to counter PML-N’s claims with a stellar development project of its own?

4. PTI’s popularity is Lodhran has taken a steep dive. Here’s why…

Jahangir Khan Tareen had defeated his opponent convincingly in the 2015 by-election, beating him with a margin of over 40,000 votes.

Tareen, who was then PTI’s General Secretary, secured 117,053 votes against 73,247 of PML-N’s Siddique Baloch.

The fact that Ali Tareen has lost the election this time around by more than 25,000 votes is evidence that the difference in votes this time around has been more than 60,000.

5. Will Lady Luck ever shine on the PPP again in Punjab?

Pakistan Peoples Party’s candidates have had a sound thrashing in Punjab. The NA-120 by-election was especially disappointing for the party who used to win scores of seats from Pakistan’s most populated province and even held its own in toughly contested seats.

In NA-120, PPP’s candidate polled less votes than the MML candidate. This time around, PPP lost to another upcoming religious party in the Lodhran NA-54 by-election as the party’s candidate polled even lesser votes than the TLYR.

Time for the PPP to put on its thinking cap and make sure its candidates try something out-of-the-box in Punjab.