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Rift in ruling party?

Media reports hint at sharp difference in the rank and file of the ruling PML (N) and the party president Nawaz Sharif has told his aids about framing a policy soon to resolve them. A renowned TV anchor claimed in a current affairs program that about 50-60 sitting members of the parliament did attend the PML (N) leaders meeting chaired by Nawaz Sharif in the Punjab House the other day. In that meeting he told that whoso does not toe his line can leave the party. This was an oblique reference to vocal leader Chaudhry Nisar. Earlier the party leadership dismissed the speculations of apparent divide in the party despite the open demand for the change of leadership from the Federal Minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada. He suggested electing Shabaz Sharif a new president of PML (N).

Realizing the fissures within the party, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held consultations with senior party leaders on Saturday and assured that he would frame a policy to amicably iron out all internal differences within the party cadres.  Although Nawaz Sharif and his younger brother Shabaz Sharif have time and again rejected the reports of internal rift yet the PML (N) has been marred by a tug or war between the next generation of Sharifs,Maryam and Hamza.  The latter remained absent from the party meeting at Punjab House held a day before Nawaz Sharif’s appearance in the Accountability Court.

The straight talk of former Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar about the possibility Maryam Nawaz  taking over the party leadership and unwelcoming remarks of a sitting Federal Minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada, who questioned the re-election of Nawaz Sharif as party president, give credence to the rift theory. Pirzada openly criticized PML N’s decision to re-elect Nawaz Sharif the party’s president. In a press conference on 23rd October, he contended that Shabaz Sharif should instead lead the party as he understood the people’s issues better. The Railway Minister Khwaja Saad Rafiq vehemently criticized Pirzada for floating a proposal for the change of leadership. Rafiq ‘scritique received a taunted response. Riaz Hussain Pirzada stood by his statement and told a private TV channel in a satirical tone and tenor,” I have not asked Indra Gandhi to take over, nether I have asked the 111 brigade to take over”, adding that he had only asked Shabaz, Nawaz,s obedient “brother” to take charge. “If Shabaz commands the 111 brigade, I apologize for my statement.” This sort of sarcasm depicts the resentment of genuine Punjabi cadres against the dominance of a small Amrtsari Kashmiri group to call shots on behalf of party leadership.

Change of leadership of a political party is an established norm of democracy. In a healthy political culture Party leadership smoothly step down. In UK the Iron Lady Prime Minister Margret Thatcher stepped down as Tory’s party leader and John Major was elected a new leader. British Prime Minister David Cameroon resigned after Brixit referendum and Theresa May was chosen the new leader of the Tory Party. In India after the tragic death of Prime Minister Rajev Gandhi in a bomb blat, the Nehru dynasty quit the active politics. Sonia Gandhi consented to return to active politics and assume the Congress Party leadership only when the party president Sita Ram Kaisri begged her in an emotional outburst to do so. Although she led the Congress party to victory in May 2004 but declined to become the Prime Minister of the world’s biggest democracy because the main opposition Janta Party objected to her Italian lineage. The Congress Party elected Dr Manmohan Singh a parliamentary leader to assume the office of Prime Minister of India.

Clinging to PML N’s leadership and virtually to the seat of power with a tainted political and moral baggage is an undemocratic behavior and it doe not augur well for the future of democracy in the country. It is time that Nawaz Sharif quit as party president and say goodbye to dynastic monarchical style of leadership.

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