A pernicious regress of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in its traditional stronghold, Sindh, is no more a canard. After Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's rare luck of completing a five-year-rule in the 1970s, this would be the only elected government to complete its term. The last five years' lacklustre performance by the party has chagrined its popular constituency.
Besides a sheer disregard of procedural imperatives, the frivolous and contemptuous attitude of a few ministers has fuelled the ire of the masses. Besides the devastating floods, unparalleled corruption and predatory feudalism are major causes of battered infrastructure, squalid towns and tormented masses in rural Sindh.
People believe that corruption during this regime has dwarfed all past records in the province. All these factors have made people weary of the four-decade-long political hegemony of the party. Nothing less than political martyrdom can underpin its dwindling credibility in rural Sindh.
The next elections may not bring an abrupt rout of the party; nevertheless, the rot has set forth. The party will be scrambling to salvage its electoral supremacy in Sindh. Sensing the inclement winds, the PPP has crowned Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, the scion of the Bhutto family, as the new party head. The titular leader, however, has not created discernible ripples so far.
The PPP is complacent that Sindh is inextricably intertwined with it and, therefore, will always tolerate its poor performance. The Communist Party of India-Marxist, CPI-M, is an epitome of the complacency syndrome. The 34-year-long unrivalled rule of the CPI-M in West Bengal state of India met a humiliating wipeout at the hands of the Trinamool Congress, merely a 13-year-old political outfit, led by Mamata Banerjee.
Her party smacked a landslide defeat to the CPI-M with a yawning margin of 226 against 62 seats. AB Bardhan of the CPI-M very pertinently explained the underlying causes of what rocked its boat saying, "One thing the Left has underestimated is that a great Indian middle class has grown up in the last few decades.
The Communist regime had fallen out of touch with the aspirations of the people it governed." A befitting comment was made by Laloo Alam, a member of the CPI-M's youth wing: "For 34 years, the CPI-M progressively killed the state. We were blind followers then; didn't look beyond the party. We were wrong."
Parallels can easily be drawn between the two cases. The conglomerate of Sindhi nationalist parties and their incipient affinity with the PML-F and the PML-N cannot be shrugged off smugly.
Admittedly, nationalist parties in Sindh are novices and not savvy enough with electoral chicaneries, yet they are potent enough to galvanise disgruntled masses and ruffle the PPP's monopoly over electoral politics in Sindh.
It may not be imminent but would not be a distant reality if the PPP didn't introspect and remedy its demeanour. Scoffing at these new realities would be mere ineptness. It is becoming increasingly difficult for the rapidly flourishing middle class of Sindhi society to subscribe to hollow sloganeering.
The anachronistic feudal structure is crumbling and will not sustain for long under artificial props. It would be saner for the PPP to bid it adieu rather than perpetuate it for political expediency. The PPP seems remiss of changing the social configuration of its traditional constituency.
It will be difficult to cajole the people of Sindh further with the obsolete dogma of roti, kapra aur makan, as the same has yet to see the light of day, even after 40 years of unflinching allegiance of Sindhis to the PPP.
The Express Tribune